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16 orders sent to social media companies in September by India’s GAC orders

While the number of orders sent to companies appear to be increasing, we still do not know the nature and type of these orders

What’s the news: Social media company Meta (Facebook and Instagram) received 10 orders from India’s Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) in September 2023. In the same timeframe, messaging platform WhatsApp received six GAC orders bringing the total number of such orders issued in September to 16 – the highest number of orders issued so far.

What are the GAC orders? The GAC was created following an amendment to the IT Rules, 2021, to act as the final entity users can approach for grievance redressal. Its orders are binding on the platforms, who wish to retain their safe harbor protections. However, apart from the number of orders sent on a particular month, there is no information about the nature of the orders sent by the GAC.


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Key takeaways from September’s transparency reports

These are the following trends of user grievances between September 1 and September 30 after looking at transparency reports from Meta, WhatsApp, Google and Twitter (August 26 to September 25):

  • Over a million child abuse cases reported in September: Facebook reported 255,100 child sexual exploitation cases and 144,200 cases of child nudity and physical abuse. Instagram reported 199,400 child sexual exploitation cases and 18,600 child nudity and physical abuse. Twitter received 450 child sexual exploitation complaints and took action against 89 URLs based on the same. Overall, there were 1,067.3 thousand cases of child abuse in September.
  • Platforms received 69 thousand complaints: WhatsApp received 10,442 grievances, of which 7,396 complaints appealed for account bans. Facebook received 19,850 complaints whereas Instagram received 13,251 complaints. Both platforms flagged significant content related to nudity or abusive content. Twitter reported 3,067 complaints with 1,076 grievances against abuse/harassment. Google reported 22,625 complaints with 20,610 copyright grievances. This is still lesser than the overall 90 thousand complaints collectively received by these platforms in August.
  • Account bans and removal actions: Twitter suspended 106 accounts after receiving 116 grievances for the same and overturning 10 complaints. This is a significant spike from the number of accounts suspended in August that recorded around 68 suspended accounts and 78 requests. Twitter also actioned against 4,264 URLs in September. Google took 66,043 removal actions based on user complaints. Facebook took action against 4,942 reports while Instagram took action against 4,843 reports. WhatsApp banned 71,11,000 accounts during this period.
  • Declining trend in hate crimes persists: Hateful conduct incidents in Twitter went up from 54 incidents in August to 1,063 incidents in September. The platform took action against 1,394 URLs in this context. Meanwhile, Instagram recorded 35,500 hate-speech content pieces and Facebook reported 86,400 such content pieces. The three platforms together reported 122,963 hate incidents.
  • Marginal decline in suicide and self-injury cases: Instagram and Facebook together accounted for 3.1 million self-harm related cases, a minor dip from the 3.4 million content pieces flagged in August. Instagram reported as many as 2.1 million content pieces whereas Facebook reported 1 million content pieces. Twitter reported 33 complaints related to the promotion of suicide or self-harm and took action on three URLs for the same.

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Written By

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.

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