Moderation’s broken but this isn’t the way to fix it
It’s a bad idea for the government to wade into the messy business of social media restraints as a super-arbiter. A self-regulatory device under a truly neutral panel would be a better bet
Who wants to moderate the moderators? Social media platforms have tripped up in regulating the content they profit from. The list of charges against them, from enabling election fraud and hate speech to endangering children and engendering violence, has exposed their failure at moderation. It’s broken, sure, but is the government best placed to fix it? India’s draft amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics) Rules put out this week propose just that. As the Centre sees it, users must have a way to contest the decisions of platforms, whether these are on taking down posts or barring them, and if its proposals are adopted—they’re up for public review—it will appoint an appellate body empowered to overturn those calls. For swift redressal, the revised IT rules also demand that grievance officers at major intermediaries respond to user complaints on false posts or content that “threatens integrity of India" (among other things) within 72 hours instead of the earlier 15 days. Plus, platforms are expected to “cause" users not to post content that crosses red lines.