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Clause Addition to the IT Act; Social Media Companies Now Responsible For All Nonuser Generated Content


A change brought in line with the changes in the US and Europe, the Indian government has recently added a clause to the proposed IT intermediary guidelines, making social media companies responsible for all nonuser produced content including supported content, distributed on their platforms. 

The change is expected to impact some extremely popular social media platforms, like Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram as well as Facebook. 

When the amended guidelines are made public, social media organizations will be required to accordingly and appropriately tag and identify all sponsored content published on their platforms and alongside it, draft standards, which are 'under consideration' of the law ministry, are expected to be notified in about a few weeks according to a senior government official “We have had a few rounds of discussions with the law ministry. 

These guidelines should be notified by February-end, the start of March.” Section 79-II of the Information Technology Act, 2000, right now absolves online intermediaries from obligation for any third party substance shared on their platform. In any case, with the new clause, the Act will give "safe harbor protection" to intermediaries, inasmuch as they just assume the job of a facilitator and not maker or modifier, in any way of the content posted.


What expedited the change was an issue that occurred in the previous year a disagreement regarding content between social media platform TikTok and Twitter-sponsored ShareChat where the latter had to bring down more than 100 videos from its platform. 

Right now, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have certain features and tags through which ads and paid partnerships are displayed. Yet, publicists and advertisers state brands would rather push content through influencers to make it look increasingly organic. 

There is likewise no compulsion or onus on the influencers to highlight that the products and content they are supporting are paid for. 

However, Government authorities said such content, produced by influencers without the contribution of the social media platforms, may in any case not be secured by the most recent clause. This clause will relate to just such non-user produced content in which the platform is in some way involved.

This meme explains why TikTok isn't like any other social media



People think that TikTok is a black hole where teens jump in and memes pop out. To be sure, TikTok has both teens and memes. But the reality is much more structured than it seems.

TikTok is dominated by videos with a very rigid, formulaic structure: a song, a dance. “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift plays, and the person sets up a social scenario that ends with them lip-synching “You need to calm down, you’re being too loud.”

Most of TikTok is like Mad Libs: the specifics of the joke differ, but the punchline is always the same. At any given moment, there’s maybe five to ten sound bites—which could be songs, or original audio recorded by users—that are accumulating the majority of the views, sometimes hundreds of thousands in just hours.

Enter TikTok's latest genre: point-of-view videos, or POVs. They create scenarios that range from horror, to historical fiction, to teenage fantasies, to the completely absurd. These videos often have little in common aside from the significant role that they assign to the viewer.

The traditional TikTok POV is shot from a first-person perspective, making the viewers the main character of the video. TikToker @porrinate, who identified himself as Adam, told Motherboard, “I think it makes it very personal to the viewer, because the video is through their eyes.”

Adam made a POV captioned “#pov you dont have a lunch at school and i offer you my entire lunch because i want you to be okay.” In this video, the viewer is a student that doesn’t have lunch. Adam speaks directly to them.

“I took it from my own experience, which was like, I didn’t get to eat that much in high school—and if I did, it was from somebody else,” Adam said. “So I would always feel like, people need to be more generous, especially towards those who are really struggling.”

Madras high court lifts ban on Tik Tok but you still can’t download it

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court removed the interim ban on TikTok on April 24, three weeks after it had asked the government to prohibit further downloads of the popular Chinese short-video application.

TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects and is one of the world’s most popular apps.

On April 3, the app was prohibited in the country because of concern it exposed children to pornography and other disturbing content.

The Chinese parent company had appealed to the apex court against the high court's order. Beijing Bytedance Technology Co. said ban led to financial losses of up to US$500,000 a day and had put more than 250 jobs at risk.

Amicus Curiae Arvind Datar, appointed by the court to examine the implications of the app, argued on Wednesday that banning an application is not the solution, and rights of legitimate users must be protected.

The Supreme Court had on Monday asked the Madras High Court to decide in its hearing on Wednesday ByteDance’s plea against the latter’s interim order of banning the app.

Last week, Google and Apple removed TikTok from their app stores on the directions of the government. The app, however, is still not available for download on both Android and iOS devices. Even if you try to install it via Google Chrome from a computer, the app listing page shows an error. A report by Gadgets 360 suggests that Madras High Court has still not sent the directive officially to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. This is the reason the government hasn't been able to ask Google and Apple to make the apps available officially on their app stores.

While the reason for the delay is still unknown, those who are interested in downloading the app will still have to rely on third-party websites for downloading it on Android phones. Do note that the case is still ongoing and it could be a while before the court sends the directive to the government to remove the ban on the app.