The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), last month, had asked social media platforms to “expeditiously” remove videos performing or attempting the ‘skull breaker challenge’, IT Minister for State Sanjay Dhotre informed Parliament yesterday.
The ‘skull breaker challenge’ had first went viral on short video app TikTok — which the government has no proposals of banning — and involves three people jumping, only that one person is kicked while jumping by the other two. In a blog post in February, the platform had said that it doesn’t allow challenges, such as the skull breaker challenge, and will continue to remove this type of content.
We checked and some of this content is up on Twitter:
— Nicole Wong 王晓庭 (@nicolewong89) February 14, 2020
Dhotre’s response comes as MEITY is close to publishing its Intermediary Liability (Amendment) Rules. These Rules could have huge ramifications for social media companies and increase their liability for user-generated content.
Previous directions to remove such viral online trends
This is not the first time that India has come down heavily on viral social media/internet trends. Last year, multiple areas in Gujarat had banned mobile games PUBG and Momo following notifications from the state home ministry. At the time, officials had said that such games incite violence among players, who are mostly children, affect their education, and change players’ behaviour after sometime. The Gujarat government had also banned PUBG in all state schools, stating that children were getting addicted and their education was being adversely affected.
In 2017, the government had directed internet companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft to immediately remove the frightening online game ‘Blue Whale Challenge’, which urged players to do self-harming challenges, including committing suicide.