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After Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp Publishes Compliance Report, Says Banned 20L Accounts in 30 Days

The new IT rules require social media companies to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content flagged for nudity and pornography.

The new IT rules require social media companies to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content flagged for nudity and pornography.

Other platforms like Google, Koo and Twitter have already submitted their compliance reports.

WhatsApp banned two million Indian accounts while it received 345 grievance reports between May 15 and June 15, the company said in its maiden monthly compliance report as mandated by the IT rules.

Facebook on Thursday said it received 646 reports in India through its grievance mechanism channel between May 15 and June 15 under categories like bullying, account hacking, nudity, and fake profiles, and it helped users resolve their issues in 363 of these cases. On July 2, Facebook had stated that it has ‘actioned’ over 30 million content pieces across 10 violation categories in India during the same time period.

The new IT rules require large digital platforms — with over five million users — to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.

“Our top focus is preventing accounts from sending harmful or unwanted messages at scale," WhatsApp said on Thursday. WhatsApp clarified that more than 95 percent of such bans are due to the unauthorised use of automated or bulk messaging (spam).

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The Facebook-owned company explained that the number of accounts banned has risen significantly since 2019 as the sophistication of systems has increased, and “so we are catching more accounts even as we believe there are more attempts to send bulk or automated messages".

The vast majority of these accounts are banned proactively, without relying on any user reports, it added. About eight million accounts are banned/disabled globally on an average per month.

In the report, WhatsApp said it had received 345 reports in total, cutting across categories such as ban appeal, account support, product support, safety issues and others.

Against this, 63 accounts were “actioned" by WhatsApp during May 15-June 15, 2021. WhatsApp said user reports received by the platform via the grievance channel/s are evaluated and responded to.

Instagram, which is part of the Facebook family of apps, received 36 reports through the Indian grievance mechanism during the same time period. “We responded to 100 per cent of the 36 reports… Of these incoming reports, we provided tools for users to resolve their issues in 10 cases," it added.

Instagram, in its July 2 report, had said it had taken action against about 2 million pieces across nine categories during the same period. The new IT rules require large digital platforms, with over 5 million users, to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.

The IT rules — which came into effect on May 26 — mandate that significant digital platforms include the number of specific communication links or parts of information they proactively remove by using automated tools. Other platforms like Google, Koo and Twitter have already submitted their compliance reports. Instagram and Facebook have also submitted their reports.

The IT rules have been designed to prevent abuse and misuse of digital platforms, and offer users a robust forum for grievance redressal. Under these rules, social media companies will have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for nudity and pornography. The rules also mandate the appointment of three key personnel — grievance officer, chief compliance officer and nodal officer. These officials need to be residents in India. Non-compliance with the IT rules would result in these platforms losing their intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them.

(With PTI inputs)

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first published:July 15, 2021, 21:32 IST