India has stricter rules for social media like Facebook and Twitter

New Delhi: India announced new rules on Thursday to regulate major social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to tighten control over major tech companies.

The rules come after Twitter ignored orders to drop content from farmers’ protests, fueling the government’s enthusiasm, dating back to 2018, to crack down on material it considers misinformation or illegal.

The government said in a press release that the new measures would require major social media companies to establish a mechanism to address grievances and appoint executives to coordinate with law enforcement authorities.

The government has said the guidelines in the Digital Media Ethics Code are necessary to hold social media and other companies accountable for misuse and abuse.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters when setting the rules, that social media companies should be “more responsible and accountable.”

The government said a detailed version of the guidelines will be published at a later time and take effect three months later. But she did not specify the date.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Twitter declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported the draft rules, which give companies a maximum of 36 hours to remove content after they receive a government or legal order.

Prasad also told reporters that the rules will oblige companies to disclose the source of the message or post when asked to do so through a legal order.

Tech companies are under intense scrutiny around the world. Facebook faced a global backlash last week from publishers and politicians after it blocked news channels in Australia in a dispute with the government over revenue sharing.

This led to recent changes by Australia in a law it passed on Thursday to ensure Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook pay for the content, a move countries like Britain and Canada want to follow.

The government said India’s rules will also require video streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime to classify content into five categories based on the age of the users.

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