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Google registers uptick in user complaints in March 2022

The tech giant’s takedown efforts remain focused on copyright and trademark complaints. 

Credit: Soumya

Google registered an uptick of nearly 1,600 complaints in March 2022 as it received a total of 31,699 complaints, according to a compliance report published by the search giant. The company had notably bucked the trend of increasing complaints in February 2022 (30,065 complaints) by disclosing 3,000 fewer complaints compared to January 2022 (33,995 complaints).

The tech giant, being a significant social media intermediary, has published monthly reports under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The report does not include requests made by the government.

The March figure reflects the total number of complaints received from individual Indian users. “These complaints relate to third-party content that is believed to violate local laws or personal rights on Google’s SSMI platforms,” Google revealed in the report.

Source: Google

A majority of these complaints (97.3 percent) concern copyright issues alleging infringement of intellectual property rights. Moreover, the company also saw complaints over trademark violations (260 complaints) and defamation (186 complaints), among other things. Google received 285 complaints under ‘Other Legal’ category in March 2022. The company did not expand on what kind of compaints are included in the category except that it features everything not already mentioned in the report.

The compliance reports help in developing an understanding of how major social media companies deal with grievances. They also shed light on issues an average internet user in India grapples with and the action taken by the platform to address these issues.

Snapshot of Google’e Removal Action in March 2022

Google took action against 93,457 items as per the complaints received by it. The company explained that a single complaint may contain multiple URLs which is why the removal action exceeds the number of complaints.

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“A single complaint may specify multiple items that potentially relate to the same or different pieces of content,” Google wrote in its report.

Source: Google

As is evident in the chart, Google’s Removal Action remains focused on taking down copyright and trademark complaints. The numbers reveal that there was not much fluctuation between February and March in the removal action figures put forth by Google.

The month of February in turn had witnessed a drop of 11 percent in Google’s removal actions compared to January 2022 (1,04,285 complaints). The company removed 94,171 items in December 2021 and 61,114 items in November 2021.

What kind of action did Google’s Automated Detection take?

Google has an automated detection mechanism in place which sniffs out harmful content online and removes it from its platforms. In March 2022, the company removed 4,02,826 items in this way, the report stated. Automated detection processes prevent the dissemination of harmful content such as child sexual abuse material and violent extremist content, the company said in its compliance report.

“We balance privacy and user protection to: quickly remove content that violates our Community Guidelines and content policies; restrict content (e.g., age-restrict content that may not be appropriate for all audiences); or leave the content live when it doesn’t violate our guidelines or policies.” — Google

Google’s automated processes detected 3,38,938 items online for removal in February 2022 which means that the company was busy in March as it removed nearly 60,000 more items this month. This is more in line with Google’s activity from January 2022 which saw action taken against 4,01,374 items. The company did not explain the reasons behind this bump.

Google uses the following datasets for automated detection —

  • Location data of the sender or creator of the content
  • Location of account creation
  • IP addresses at the time of video upload
  • User phone numbers

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Written By

I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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