In all, the government issued blocking requests for 2,205 posts in 2017 and 2018 (up to June), out of which 74% were taken down by the concerned social network.
Blocking requests are issued by the government based on its assessment that the content is obscene, could hurt religious sentiments, cause moral outrage, incite people to violence or otherwise create trouble.
Out of the three main social networks, Facebook was the most compliant as far as removing posts was concerned.
Out of the 1,076 requests it got, the firm removed or blocked 956 posts, or 89% of the controversial content.
On the other side was Twitter, which removed 409 posts out of 728 requested by the government, a ratio of 56%.
Video platform Youtube removed or blocked 152 videos out of the 182 requested by the government, giving it a compliance ratio of 83.5%.
Interestingly, Facebook’s photosharing service, Instagram, was not as compliant with government’s blocking requests as the parent service.
Instagram removed only 66 out of the 150 photos it was asked to remove.
Social media is an emerging area of tussle between votaries of individual freedom and those who are against people questioning traditions, religious beliefs and so on.
It is also an area of concern for the government as it can potentially be used by foreign countries to influence public opinion and in turn, the results of India’s elections. It can also be used to create unrest and riots by distributing fake videos and news.
Interestingly, no such numbers are kept for India’s most popular social media platform, WhatsApp. This is because WhatsApp has no way to remove any content from its users’ phones.
The government has been pressurizing WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, to put in place some mechanism to control content that is being shared on its network.