The ministry in its statement said that WhatsApp has 53 crore users in India while YouTube ranks second with 44.8 crore users. Facebook and Instagram have 41 crore and 21 crore users respectively while Twitter merely has 1.75 crore users.
If you are still wondering why Facebook wants to cross-share platform analytics among WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram by updating privacy policies, it totally makes business sense. If these numbers are to be considered, then every Indian may either be using Facebook or WhatsApp or Instagram. Sharing audience behaviour among these platforms will help Facebook create your digital profile for ads irrespective of whether you use the native Facebook app or not.
A total of 115 crore (or 1.15 billion) users across WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook apps is a huge number that Mark Zuckerberg simply can’t ignore. Of course, there are people who use all the three apps simultaneously but even then India is clearly the cash cow for the American social media giant which is facing a tough time in other parts of the world.
Rules of the game have changed for Facebook
In India, so far there has been little accountability for the likes of Facebook. And this what the Information Technology (IntermediaryGuidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 aims to change.
“India is the world’s largest open Internet society and the Government welcomes social media companies to operate in India, do business and also earn profits. However, they will have to be accountable to the Constitution and laws of India,” it said.
As per the government the entire basis of creating the new framework is to counter fake news, revenge porn, settling corporate rivalries unethically, defamatory and abusive language, disrespect to religion and the use of social media by “anti-national elements” and criminals.
For a company as large as Facebook, the government is mandating certain new compliance rules. If due diligence is not followed by any social media company then “safe harbour provisions will not apply to them,” said the government.
Facebook and other large social media companies will have to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules. Also, they will need to appoint Nodal Contact Person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. To bring more accountability, the government wants these companies to appoint a Resident Grievance Officer too. All the posts need to be filled by Indian nationals only.
Big social media players also need to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by them.
Another important change, large social media companies are required to include is the identification of the first originator of the information. This means companies can no longer cite “end-to-end encryption” as a reason for not being able to identify the source of the message or post.
As per the government, “This will be required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.”
Now, with a combined user base of 1.15 billion, it would be interesting to see how Facebook actually responds to keep the Indian government happy.