Social Media

Centre To Set Up Three GACs To Handle Social Media Users’ Complaints: Report

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The ministry of electronics and information technology (IT), citing sources, said that the government is considering three grievance appellate committees (GACs) to look into complaints by users against decisions of social media platforms and consultations on various modalities of these panels will start in January, according to a PTI report.



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Information Technology (IT) rules had been strengthened in October to pave the way for formation of the centre-appointed panels to settle often-ignored user grievances against the way social media platforms addressed their complaints regarding content and other matters, as per the report.

In a nutshell, the report noted that, these panels will be able to review content moderation decisions by social media companies like Meta and Twitter which are able to overrule decisions of the big tech firms on takedown or blocking requests. On this, the government had reportedly said that the move was necessitated due to the casual and tokenism approach of digital platforms towards user complaints.

Sources quoted in the PTI report said that there will be three grievance appellate panels which will be assigned different types of appeals based on the categories of harmful content mentioned in the recently-amended IT rules. Broadly, these appeals could be around complaints regarding sexually explicit content, misinformation, or religious incitement.

IT ministry sources, according to the report, said that the appeals pertaining to areas other than those listed out in the amended IT rules will be directed to the relevant authority or tribunal. In such cases, the GACs will act as a signpost, redirecting the complaints to the authority and tribunal concerned, while informing the complainant that their grievance has been forwarded to the relevant agency.

The sources further reportedly said that while the IT ministry has time and again told social media companies that it is open to industry proposing an effective self-regulatory model and, in fact, still remains open to the option, in the interim GACs will be put in place. If the industry can, indeed, propose a better solution, the IT ministry is open to considering the same.

As per the earlier reports, in October, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, while elaborating on the changes to IT rules, had pointed out that lakhs of messages around unresolved user complaints reflected the broken grievance redressal mechanism being offered by platforms.

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