Online collaboration and messaging tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Flock, Jive, and several others—used predominantly by businesses for internal communications—are likely to be affected by India's new Intermediary Guidelines Rules, which essentially treat business messaging tools the same way as they treat a platform like Facebook or Twitter. The business messaging tools will presumably be treated as "social media intermediaries"; those large enough will be treated "significant social media intermediaries", which have additional compliance requirements. Why this matters: Even though the rules place the same conditions on Slack and Facebook, for instance, there are fundamental differences between the two — they key one being that the former is not designed for mass public outreach. By design, a user of Facebook or Twitter can potentially reach all the users on the respective platforms. Even WhatsApp, while not strictly similar to Facebook or Twitter, still allows for messages to be forwarded, a feature that is key for the product. A Slack or Microsoft Teams are not built the same way. This issue assumes significance considering how dependent millions of Indians in the workforce have become on business communication products such as Slack and Microsoft Teams due to work-from-home during the COVID19 pandemic. A bit of context: The IT Rules define "social media intermediary" as "an intermediary which primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services". This definition, experts argue, is quite broad, and would include business-oriented…
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