Need to regulate social media
- Ability of digital/social Media to Reach, Scale and size is huge compare to print and other media.
- The issue of content regulation has always been important in India because of the diverse nature of Indian society in terms of religion, economic status, caste and language. Therefore, the effect that digital media has on society forms the basis of its regulation by the state.
- While electronic media in India is regulated by the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, there was no law or body to oversee digital content. Some people are taking an undue advantage which leads to too much voice and noise in social media.
- Recently, India has seen a surge in the number of fake news items in circulation, especially on WhatsApp and Face book.
- Absence of editorial control in digital/ social media leads to large scale user-generated content which is unregulated.
- In 2018, fake information that was circulated on WhatsApp led to the lynching of five men in Maharashtra and there are many such instances.
- Threat of foreign influence and interference in India’s domestic affairs is more real than ever, particularly from India’s hostile neighbours like China and Pakistan.
- The Supreme Court had expressed the need to regulate social media to curb fake news, defamation and trolling. It had also asked the Union government to come up with guidelines to prevent misuse of social media while protecting users’ privacy.
Digital media regulation in India
- Recently the government issued an order bringing online news portals and Over the Top (OTT) content under the regulatory purview of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry.
- For the first time, the government, under the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, has brought in detailed guidelines for digital content on both digital media and Over the Top (OTT) platforms, while giving overriding powers to the government to step in.
- Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe the ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ of the Press Council of India and the ‘Programme Code’ under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.