The big question: will Twitter, Instagram and Facebook be banned?

The social media space has been full of speculation – what exactly is going to happen? Are social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram blocked? The question is asked repeatedly because certain guidelines for intermediaries for these social media platforms were published three months ago.

They were given three months to comply with all guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy). The deadline was yesterday, May 25th, 2021. This is why social media is in a frenzy as everyone is afraid of what will happen today.

If it's 6 p.m. but Twitter still works … #banned pic.twitter.com/zk9kTc8Wym

– ray (@ batman_437) May 25, 2021

What is the main problem?

As of yesterday, none of the companies had given any indication of the implementation of the guidelines issued by the Indian government, even after a six-month delay in implementation was requested. No matter how it turns out, the guidelines will go into effect from today.

The problem is that one of the social media platforms that refuses to follow the guidelines runs the risk of losing its status as a social media platform in the country and foregoing any protection they receive as an intermediary. According to a government official, "if the government does not obey the rules, it can take action against them under the law of the country."

However, there were indications that Facebook agreed to adhere to the rules set by IT. An official social networking company spokesman said they are working on compliance and continue to discuss some issues that require greater collaboration with the government.

They are working on improving their operational processes and increasing their efficiency. "Facebook continues to advocate people's ability to express themselves freely and securely on our platform."

What is the reality

Unlike the clickbait-y headlines and posts created by both news organizations and social media influencers, there isn't an outright ban on these social media giants if they make the necessary changes. There was panic everywhere on Instagram and Twitter yesterday. Influencers rushed to share their Snapchat handles with their followers – just in case.

The reality is that these platforms will lose their intermediary status. Simply put, this means that these companies will be held accountable or criminally liable for the content they publish. If content is found illegal by the government, it must face the impact.

According to experts, the rush with which the government acts is not good when they only have three months to adhere to all guidelines. In a similar situation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union had given companies a sufficient period of two years to comply with the regulations.

WhatsApp, the messaging service with over 400 million users in our country, has even taken a step against the government. They are suing them for wanting to block the new IT rules that the government is so desperate to follow (as reported by Reuters).

Their argument is that these rules will make them follow every single message because they can't really be sure which messages the government may want to investigate in the future. In one of their blogs, they even wrote, "A government that mandates traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance."

What could all this do?

As of 2018, when the Kashmiri government banned WhatsApp and said terrorists use the app to communicate with each other and then banned popular platforms like TikTok and PUBG, citing national security as the reason, that trend got just a little off the US continued publishing the guidelines in February.

Their main reason for publishing the new guidelines was to somewhat curb the spread of information about the mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis in the country. Once these rules come into effect, there may be severe over-censoring of information.

Not only that, but it could also lead to the use of unproven AI-based tools to regulate content, which can lead to a breach of privacy and cybersecurity. It doesn't just end here. While these are just a few variables, one thing is certain.

We can't really comment on whether or not the rules set by the government are necessary, but they have put a strain on the relationship between the country and these tech giants. Even if there are no prohibitions, these rules will have a lasting impact.

The alternatives to Twitter and the others

When the government banned Chinese apps, the number of users of the Indian social media platform ShareChat increased massively. Additionally, Koo, another indigenous platform with over 60 lakh users that easily complies with the rules, is getting a lot of support from the government.

#Koo has seen massive growth in its user base in recent months after union ministers and government departments endorsed the domestic microblogging platform. Https://t.co/TLNOulKmV8

– Hindustan Times Tech (@HTTech) May 26, 2021

These are just a few examples of the fact that social media culture is not disappearing anytime soon, even when Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are actually banned. And we not only have "Made in India" platforms, but also other international platforms.

Snapchat: As mentioned earlier, users have been actively exchanging their Snapchat handles to make sure the network doesn't stop. Also, Snapchat ads are just another alternative waiting to be explored.

Alternatives to banned social media

Pinterest: This is a grossly underrated platform with enormous potential. The self-service dashboard provided has made basic targeting, which focuses on gender, age, and other such factors, pretty easy.

Alternatives to banned social media

LinkedIn: How can we miss the world's most popular professional networking platform? While the market is primarily for B2B advertisers, that doesn't mean B2C advertisers couldn't brand. It's about the right planning.

Conclusion

There are other options too like Quora, Reddit, and even YouTube. All the marketers need to do is be prepared and ready to adjust. While we don't think Facebook and the others are going to go away anytime soon, it is always better to be prepared as the government may ban them if they don't follow their rules.

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