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Objectionable Content On the Social Media

Context:

Recently, As allegations of an objectionable video of women students of Chandigarh University being leaked surfaced, triggering an outrage, challenges are ahead of the Punjab Police to tackle the situation.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the first step to tackle objectionable content that goes viral?
  2. What happens after the social media intermediaries are identified?
  3. Can an investigating agency or individual approach the grievances redressal officer of social media sites independently in India?

What is the first step to tackle objectionable content that goes viral?

  • The first task for the investigation agency is to identify the social media intermediary through which the objectionable content in any form i.e., picture, video, voice message, is being spread.
    • Usually, investigation agencies rely on the disclosure of the first arrested accused, who discloses about the first method through which the content was shared.
  • In complicated cases in which the content is being shared on multiple social media platforms, agencies can take up the matter with all social media intermediaries including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc.

What happens after the social media intermediaries are identified?

  • After identifying one or multiple social media intermediaries, the investigation agency communicates with the regulating authorities/headquarters of these intermediaries.
  • There are two methods for communication:
    • First is the emergency disclosure, in which the agency seeks the phone number and IP address of a device which was used to creating/recording the objectionable/vulnerable content. Routine matters in which there is no urgency are pursued through this method.
    • Second is the emergency response. Matters related to national security, threat to the human lives and child abuse are followed through this method. Regulating authorities of social media take prompt decisions over applications sent through the second method.
  • Indeed, it is up to the investigation agency to satisfy the social media headquarters through communication about the urgency of the request.
  • Once the regulating authorities satisfy, they promptly delete, remove the content from their platforms.
Can an investigating agency or individual approach the grievances redressal officer of social media sites independently in India?
  • According to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, a victim can directly approach the grievances redressal officer of any social media site independently or through an investigation agency.
    • All major social sites including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter are bound to place their grievances redressal officers in India, as per the notified rules.
  •  According to the Part 2 of the amended IT Rules, 2021, the content which exposes the private area of an individual or shows them in full or partial nudity or shows/depicts them in any sexual act or conduct, or is in the nature of impersonation in an electronic form, including artificially morphed images, all reasonable and practicable measures are to be taken to remove or disable access to such content which is hosted, stored, published or transmitted.
Is it a complicated process to identify the suspect or erase, delete and make the content inaccessible?
  • Removing/deleting and identifying the culprit on WhatsApp is more complicated than Facebook or Twitter.
  • In case of Facebook or Twitter, the investigation agency can identify the suspect through their account, be it fake or based on a fictitious identity.
  • But in case of WhatsApp, the video, pictures or voice messages spread instantly and are forwarded to many at a time.
  • However, once the objectionable content is removed from the original number, the content shall be removed in coming days automatically.

-Source: Indian Express


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