Recently TikTok was banned because of offensive content. However later the ban was lifted but it raised lot of controversy and debate on this and also on content on social media. The Internet and mobile association of India felt that such bans could affect the digital India initiative. Should such apps be banned or regulated.
In this age of Internet, controlling content is getting difficult. Should the government regulate the content in social media? This is a big question.
Social media regulation is a debatable topic. With fake news, rumours, offensive content and propaganda in the social media it is felt that regulation is required. Though the Indian government has set guidelines where social media platforms have to remove any unlawful content within 24 hours that can affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India”, still plenty of propaganda keeps getting viral every hour. With millions of smart phone users and with the popularity of different apps which often carries offensive and vulgar content the regulation seems relevant.
India is a huge market for social media players but they have not been able to control the spread of fake news. With the recent elections in the country many measures were taken to control the spread of fake news and rumours; Facebook announced that it will start to show a disclaimer on all political ads in India that provides more information about who’s placing the ad, and an online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access.
Efforts are on to control the spread of information on social media. The black listing of Chinese applications that work on Android and iOS Smartphones by the Union Home Ministry of India is one move towards this direction. All defence officials have been advised to uninstall the applications listed as Chinese Spyware as they may be a threat to privacy and security.
Some of the blacklisted apps include Weibo, WeChat, SHAREit, Truecaller, UC News, UC Browser, BeautyPlus, NewsDog, VivaVideo- QU Video Inc, Parallel Space, APUS Browser, Perfect Corp, Virus Cleaner (Hi Security Lab), CM Browser, Mi Community, DU recorder, Vault-Hide, YouCam Makeup, Mi Store, CacheClear DU apps studio, DU Battery Saver, DU Cleaner, DU Privacy, 360 Security, DU Browser, Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile, Baidu Translate, Baidu Map, Wonder Camera, ES File Explorer, Photo Wonder, QQ International, QQ Music, QQ Mail, QQ Player, QQ NewsFeed, WeSync, QQ Security Centre, SelfieCity, Mail Master, Mi Video call-Xiaomi, QQ Launcher.
Recent ban on the popular Chinese App Tiktok created lot of controversy however later the ban was withdrawn. The App developed by Chinese company ByteDance was launched in China in 2016 as Douyin and later after a year in the International market as Tiktok. The App allows users to create and upload short videos with special effects. Extremely popular app with more than 30 million users was banned by the court as the court believed that it had inappropriate content and encouraged pornography. The app was removed by Google and Apple stores. However people who had already downloaded the app continued using it. Later ByteDance challenged the court saying it had mechanism in place to regulate the content. The court later removed the ban on the grounds that if the regulatory mechanism was not found effective the company would attract contempt of court. Much to the relief of the large number of Tiktok fans the app is again open for downloading.
Reacting to the recent ban on Tiktok the association feels that instead of banning the app court could have asked the platform to remove the offending content. Banning any app is not the answer feels a regular Tiktok fan and user. What is required is regulation. Many use this app to express themselves and showcase their talent. It amounts to curtailing the rights of citizens of the country, the company contended. Another Tiktok fan feels government needs to focus on more important issues facing the nation rather than on these apps.
With so many social networks to keep track of, it can be a challenge for parents to keep track of all the information their kids are viewing. If the concern was the inappropriate content on Tiktok, in case of pubG the concern was the addictive nature of this game.
PubG PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of a South Korean video game company Bluehole. It has several million users around the globe.
The game was in news because of the adverse affects the online game caused to the players. Health of the players was of concern here and anxious parents want the game to be banned across India. The game was banned in Nepal which was later revoked. Even many Indian states were considering banning the game. In Rajkot, Gujarat, police had even arrested some students for playing PubG in public. Responding to the controversy PubG issued a statement promising to bring in features that will help promote healthy and balanced in-game environment.
Controlling content on Internet and social media can be a very difficult task. But regulation is definitely needed. According a legal expert any app which tends to disturb the mind of the child should not be encouraged at all. He further adds that, “We also need to protect the right of the users of such app by making them understand the pros and cons of such use”. As elders we also need to protect our children from falling prey to over use of any such apps which may adversely affect their upbringing and outlook in the society. As of now tiktok may have survived the legal challenge in India but little children and even adults need to understand the intricacies involved while using such apps and be careful.
It has to be a joint effort where citizens, government, activists, and even media need to work together and ensure that responsible content is shared on social media. The Internet and mobile associations are of the view that such arbitrary bans could hamper the growth of digital India. It would especially affect the social media platforms which allow citizens to express themselves. The association is aware of the problem of content moderation on user-generated content platforms and they are taking measures to control this problem.