Centre to set up 3 grievance appellate committees to handle complaints of social media users: Report
These panels will be able to review content moderation decisions by social media companies like Meta and Twitter, and can overrule decisions of the big tech firms on takedown or blocking requests.
The Centre is allegedly considering three Grievance Appellate Committees (GACs) to look into complaints by users against decisions of social media platforms, and consultations on various modalities of the panels will start in January, sources from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (IT) said.
In October this year, the Information Technology (IT) ruled that it had been strengthened 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.
These panels will be able to review content moderation decisions by social media companies like Meta and Twitter, and can overrule decisions of the big tech firms on takedown or blocking requests. The government had said the move was necessitated due to the "casual" and "tokenism" approach of digital platforms towards user complaints.
It is reportedly said that there will be as many as 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.
In the new rules, the government added objectionable religious content (with intent to incite violence) alongside pornography, trademark infringements, fake information and something that could be a threat to sovereignty of the nation, as content that users can flag to social media platforms.
Sources from the IT ministry said that 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.
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.
Discontent has been developing amid claims that social media sites arbitrarily removed content that users had marked or that intermediaries took too long to address user complaints. With the recent action, users will have a mechanism for appealing grievance rulings in the form of appellate panels, which will examine complaints made by people about the judgements of the grievance officers of social media platforms.