On March 26, 2022, WhatsApp reported that it had banned 45.97 lakh Indian accounts in February for violating its guidelines. This figure represents an increase from the 29.18 lakh accounts banned in January. WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, listed the accounts actioned in its India Monthly Report under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
Compliance Reports Required for Large Digital Platforms
Under these rules, digital platforms with more than five million users must publish compliance reports every month. These reports should detail the complaints received and the corresponding action taken by the platforms to combat abuse. The goal of these regulations is to increase transparency and accountability in the digital space, where hate speech, fake news, and other forms of harmful content are prevalent.
Platforms Face Criticism Over Hate Speech and Misinformation
Social media platforms, including WhatsApp, have faced criticism over the prevalence of hate speech, fake news, and other misinformation. Critics have accused the platforms of taking an arbitrary stance when it comes to removing hate content and misinformation and banning users. These criticisms have led to increased pressure on platforms to take a more proactive approach to moderate their content and to be more transparent about the actions they take to combat abuse.
Grievance Appellate Committee Launched
To address these concerns, the Centre has launched the Grievance Appellate Committee, which allows users to appeal against decisions made by social media platforms. This committee provides users with a mechanism for holding platforms accountable and ensuring their voices are heard. It is an essential step towards creating a more transparent and accountable digital space.
In conclusion, WhatsApp’s banning of nearly 46 lakh Indian accounts in February for violating its guidelines highlights the challenges that social media platforms face in combating abuse in the digital space. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and the Grievance Appellate Committee are important steps towards increasing transparency and accountability in the digital space and ensuring that users are protected from harmful content.