Facebook has now announced down that it will take offensive content only if it gets a legal or government notice.
The social media giant changed its process, complying with a Supreme Court order that said a non-government request to remove content will need a court order.
“We have changed our process. So now, before we restrict content in India for illegality, we require that the government submit legal process to us, and we scrutinise that with our legal teams,”
Global Policy Head of Facebook Monika Bickert told the Economic Times, adding that content will not be restricted if somebody outside the government flags it as offensive.
This latest move comes in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling from 2015, when it read down Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, saying that a non-government request to remove online content can be entertained only if a court order is produced along with it.
The court had also scrapped Section 66A of the act, according to which authorities had the power to penalise free speech on online platforms that were deemed offensive.
India is Facebook’s second-largest market, with 142 million monthly active users. It’s worth noting that India had 14,971 content restriction requests in the July-December period, second only to France, and down from 15,155 requests in the first half of 2015, according to a recent Facebook report.
India also made the second highest requests for user data at 5,561, after the US, which made 19,235 such demands. Facebook gives users the option to flag or report objectionable content including posts, photos, messages, comments, profiles, events and pages. Content is blocked or taken down if it violates Facebook’s community standards. Bickert clarified that the new rules do not mean that people can no longer report offensive content.
In the past three years, India has almost always been the top requester for content restrictions worldwide, according to Facebook.