How A Law Can Make Social Media Accountable?
“Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.”
Social Media has transformed our lives majestically, so much so, that people are practically live online now. In this aspect, it is necessary for us to weigh in on the consequences of using the medium constantly and utilising it in a way that makes our life not only efficient but also safe. The Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh East, Mr Ninong Ering proposed a private member bill on Social Media Accountability.
Why do we need Social Media Accountability?
Nowadays anything and everything can be accessed online. Global campaigns can be run with a mere tweet or a post on Facebook. However, the major downfalls are associated with this is that, since everything is so readily accessible, hackers and bullies have made these sites their hunting ground. Young people are getting access to all sorts of content which is harming their gullible minds.
Imagine someone running a social media account with your pictures, taking over your identity, making obscene comments here and there, with a different name. But it’s you on that profile picture, your featured photograph and your identity that’s stolen. You go on to report the account but more often than not, the account isn’t immediately taken down and you have to wait for days at a stretch for the procedure to take place. Frustrating isn’t it?
This is exactly why we need the social media accountability bill. Just like all traditional media channels have strict rules regulating their actions, we need accountability from social media sites as well. This bill proposes that if social media sites can make money the same way as the traditional media, then the legalities subjected to the latter should be implemented on the former as well. They should have ethical responsibilities and the content should be monitored. A network enforcement authority needs to exist and social network providers need to appoint a network safety officer who has a good amount of technical understanding in this field.
The Act will not be applied to any social media site which has less than a million registered users in the country. It is of utmost importance that all social media sites, getting more than five thousand complaints, frame a proper way of handling complaints related to unlawful content in the form of half-yearly reports.
The social media site will need to address the means undertaken by it to put a stop to prohibited activities. This should include drafting clear mechanisms when it comes to blocking and removing unlawful content. And a track of the number of complaints by the users should also be kept. Experts should be brought on board who can support people who deal with the complaints and help them process it.
Role of the Network Safety Officer
The appointed Network Safety Officer should be a person who has a good amount of expertise in different fields like collecting information, processing it and dealing with complaints.
He/she should make inquiries within 24 hours of receiving a particular complaint and resolve it within 7 days.
The respected authorities need to be dealt with and proper supervision must precede the publication of half-yearly reports. Apart from this, the Network Enforcement Authority will make sure that everything proposed by the bill runs smoothly and with all due fairness.
To sum it up, Mr Ninong Ering proposed this bill so that an authority comes into action to account for all kinds of unlawful content that goes up on social media. This bill also aims to fight executive overreach and aims to maintain the privacy security balance by holding media service providers responsible for the content on their respective portals, and with the Network Enforcement Authority, it aims to settle disputes and punishing offenders as per the act.
(Authors were interns at Office of Mr Ninong Ering worked under the mentorship of Abhishek Ranjan, Research & Policy Analyst and Vijay Tyagi, Ex-LAMP Fellow )
Written by : Karishma Kharbanda (Guest Author)
Edited by : Shraddha Goled