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India’s Grievance Appellate Committee sent 13 orders to social media companies in July

Transparency reports from Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google for July 2023 showed a noticeable increase in the orders sent by the GAC

What’s the news: Orders from the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) to social media companies more than tripled in July 2023 as compared to the number of orders sent in June 2023. Meta’s transparency report, which provides user grievance-related data about both Facebook and Instagram, noted that the platforms received eight GAC orders. WhatsApp received five GAC orders.

What is GAC? As per an amendment to the IT Rules, 2021, India has a Grievance Appellate Committee—a regulating body for users who feel a social media platform’s ‘grievance officer’ has not satisfactorily resolved their complaint. The final decision of the GAC is binding on platforms and refusing to comply with the GAC can cost a platform its safe harbor protections.

No details on the GAC orders: Apart from the time and number of GAC orders sent out, there is still no information about the nature of these complaints. According to the Economic Times, digital rights groups like the Internet Freedom Foundation and The Dialogue had asked the government in April for public disclosure of the orders where users are allowed to appeal content moderation decisions by social media intermediaries. However, the government has yet to elaborate on the GAC’s procedures and periodic reviews. Further, the GAC orders cannot be appealed against or revised under the country’s platform regulation rules, said Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar in April.

Key takeaways from July’s transparency reports

66 thousand complaints flagged in July: WhatsApp received 11,067 grievances in July of which 9,818 were appeals for bans. Facebook received 3,200 complaints whereas Instagram received 20,146 complaints. Both platforms flagged significant inappropriate or abusive content. Twitter reported 2,056 complaints with 1,783 grievances against abuse/harassment. Google reported 29,603 with 26, 958 copyright complaints.

Account bans and removal actions: WhatsApp banned 7,228,000 accounts. Twitter suspended 48 accounts after receiving 49 grievances for the same and overturning one complaint. It also took action against 3,712 URLs. Google took 113,208 removal actions based on user complaints. Facebook took action against 5,392 reports while Instagram took action against 5,102 reports.

Over 900 thousand hate crimes in July: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter together reported 9,69,900 hate-related content. Instagram recorded the highest number of such hate-speech content pieces with 7,36,000 content pieces. Facebook reported 1,79,900 content pieces. Twitter reported 54 hateful conduct incidents.

Over 3 million incidents of suicide and self-injury: Instagram and Facebook together accounted for 3.6 million content pieces related to suicide and self-injury in July. Instagram reported as many as 2.2 million content pieces whereas Facebook reported 1.4 million content pieces. Twitter reported one complaint related to the promotion of suicide or self-harm.

931.1 thousand child abuse cases: Facebook reported 4,05,700 child sexual exploitation cases and 138,000 cases of child nudity and physical abuse. Instagram reported 293,300 child sexual exploitation cases and 48,400 child nudity and physical abuse. Twitter received 46 child sexual exploitation complaints and took action against 58 URLs based on the same.

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I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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



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