According to a press release dated 25th February 2021 from the Government of India’s Press Information Bureau regarding the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, it was noted that the widespread use of mobile phones, the internet, and other technologies has also enabled many social media platforms to expand their footprints in India. The general public also makes extensive use of these platforms. Certain portals that provide analyses on social media platforms and have not been challenged, have given the following numbers for the user base of key social media platforms in India:
(a) WhatsApp users: 53 Crore
(b) YouTube users: 44.8 Crore
(c) Facebook users: 41 Crore
(d) Instagram users: 21 Crore
(e) Twitter users: 1.75 Crore
These social media platforms, which can also be referred to as social media intermediaries, have enabled ordinary Indians to express their creativity, ask questions, stay informed, and freely share their opinions, including criticism of the government and its officials. There are additional platforms, ranging from online news and digital media outlets to OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. OTT stands for ‘over-the-top,’ implying that the content provider is providing television and film content over the internet at the consumer’s request and according to their preferences.
The Government recognises and respects each Indian’s right to criticise and disagree as a necessary component of democracy. India is the world’s largest open Internet society, and the government encourages social media businesses to establish operations, conduct business, and earn profits in India. They will, however, be held accountable to India’s Constitution and laws. The Digital India initiative has evolved into a movement aimed at empowering ordinary Indians via the use of technology.
On the one hand, the proliferation of social media empowers citizens, but on the other, it raises some major problems and implications that have multiplied in recent years.
These issues have been expressed on occasion in a variety of settings, including the Parliament and its committees, judicial orders, and civil society discussions in various parts of the country. Similar concerns have been expressed throughout the world, and the issue has developed into a global one.