Why New IT Rules, 2021 for Social Media were necessary?

Synopsis: Government has released new IT rules 2021 for Social media. This article talks about the need for these rules.


  • Recently, The Indian government has announced a number of rules to curb the misuse of social media.

Read More about New Rules: New IT Rules for Social Media and OTT platforms – Explained Pointwise – ForumIAS Blog

Why Big Tech needs to be regulated?

  • First, Big techs have grown out of proportion. They have access to billions of dollars as well as the power to control three important resources in modern times. Data, Attention and the popular narrative.
  • The following incidents will better explain the power these big companies wield in modern times.
      • Twitter’s noncompliance to obey orders from a sovereign country like India.
      • Donald Trump, de-platformed from Twitter and Facebook
  • Second, Self-regulation measures taken by the Big Techs to control misinformation in the infodemic era have been ad hoc, inconsistent and reactive.
  • Third, Offensive speech in social media has commercial gains for Big techs. Because this content goes viral è attracts more users more data è More advertising revenue.
  • Fourth, in democratic societies states are the guardians of the public interest. So, curtailing speech or permitting it, is the role of states, not the Big techs.
      • Also, the tech industry is itself deeply flawed. There is a lack of sufficient choice of platforms and there are asymmetries in power between the companies and users. Big Tech is amassing data on the citizens and using this information for its own purposes.
  • Fifth, the power of Big techs is more compared to states. It gives them better bargaining power to enforce their profit motives over national interests. For example, recently, Google and Facebook threatened to de-platform Australia.

What are the counterarguments from Big techs?

  • First, the Big techs contend that they have developed better processes to regulate offensive speech content. So, they feel that the government’s involvement is not necessary.
  • Second, even democratically elected governments are far from perfect. So, they do not have the legitimacy to regulate free speech.
      • For instance, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, both India (ranked 53rd) and the US (ranked 25th) are “flawed democracies”.
      • Also, governments might enforce rules in their personal interest to cut-off dissents against the government.
      • This leads to the opinion that well-functioning markets are superior to flawed democracies in optimizing social welfare.


Regulating tech giants in India- Explained

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