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Government Issued 105 Blocking Orders to Social Media Firms Under New IT Rules

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The government has issued 105 directions to social media platforms under the new IT rules that came into effect in February last year, Parliament was informed on Friday. According to information shared by minister of state for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written reply to Rajya Sabha, the directions were issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the new rules.

The data shared by the minister shows that 94 directions to block content was issued to YouTube between December 2021 and April 2022, five to Twitter, and three each to Facebook and Instagram.

Chandrasekhar said that the government’s policies are aimed at ensuring open, safe and trusted and accountable Internet for its users.

He said that the government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021 (“IT Rules, 2021”) on February 25, 2021 to make intermediaries including social media platforms accountable to their users and enhance user safety online.

“Neither the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 nor the above said rules contravene users’ right to privacy,” Chandrasekhar said.

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The Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) is also said to conduct compliance audits of social media companies every quarter.

At present, social media platforms are required to disclose their compliance with IT rules 2021 every month where they disclose action taken by them in response to various grievances.

“MeitY has now put in place a mechanism to audit compliance of social media intermediaries under IT rules every quarter. As part of the audit, the ministry will verify if social media companies are reporting about grievances raised to them correctly and if their action taken is in sync with the laid out rules,” the source told PTI.

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To tighten the noose on social media platforms, the government has proposed to set up an appellate panel which will have power to overrule decisions taken by social media companies with respect to any grievance. The public consultation process with respect to the proposed rule has been wrapped up by the IT ministry.


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WhatsApp Beta Update Adds ‘Picture-in-Picture’ Support During Video Calls for iOS Testers: Report

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WhatsApp has reportedly begun testing the ability to use ‘picture-in-picture’ (PIP) mode during video calls on iOS. The Meta-owned messaging app continues to develop new features for the popular messaging app, and is rolling out a new update for its beta testers on iOS that will add the feature to use other apps and multitask while video calling via WhatsApp, according to a feature tracker. ‘Picture-in-picture’ mode isn’t new to WhatsApp for iOS — it already supports the feature when playing media shared from websites like YouTube and Facebook.

According to a report from WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo, select users part of the TestFlight beta program will receive the feature as part of the update to version 22.24.0.79 on iOS. A screengrab on the website shows the ability to multitask with other apps during an ongoing video call on WhatsApp. The video call window can be temporarily hidden as well. Users who have received the update can check if they have received the feature by trying to use a different app while placing a video call.

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A screenshot of the picture-in-picture mode in action shared by the feature tracker

Photo Credit: WABetaInfo

The report states that the PIP feature is working on iOS 16.1 or above, with previous versions not yet supported despite being compatible with the update. “Note that, even if this feature is compatible with iOS 15 and newer versions of iOS, we have no evidence that it is also enabled for users on iOS 15 at the moment,” WABetaInfo said. The update should soon be available for the wider user base as well.

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The new update to beta version 22.24.0.79 follows a slew of WhatsApp updates on the iOS platform. Most recently, iOS beta testers received a ‘search by date’ feature that let users search specific messages by date within a chat, adding a calendar icon in the search option.

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WhatsApp users also received a ‘Message Yourself’ feature to send themselves reminders and take notes, the ability to include captions when forwarding media, and a voice note feature for status updates.

Probably the biggest feature added recently to the app on both iOS and Android was WhatsApp Polls, which let users create polls in both personal and group chats. The feature is also found on rival messaging services, like Telegram.


Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and the iPad (2022) alongside the new Apple TV this week. We discuss the company’s latest products, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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New Zealand Plans to Introduce Law to Make Google, Facebook Pay Local Outlets for News

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The New Zealand government said it will introduce a law that will require big online digital companies such as Alphabet’s Google and Meta to pay New Zealand media companies for the local news content that appears on their feeds.

Minister of Broadcasting Willie Jackson said in a statement on Sunday that the legislation will be modelled on similar laws in Australia and Canada and he hoped it would act as an incentive for the digital platforms to reach deals with local news outlets.

“New Zealand news media, particularly small regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online,” Jackson said. “It is critical that those benefiting from their news content actually pay for it.”

The new legislation will go to a vote in parliament where the governing Labour Party’s majority is expected to pass it.

Australia introduced a law in 2021 that gave the government power to make internet companies negotiate content supply deals with media outlets. A review released by the Australian government last week found it largely worked.

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The law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in Australia, may need to be extended to other online platforms, the review said.

Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, the tech firms had inked more than 30 deals with media outlets compensating them for the content which generated clicks and advertising dollars, said the Treasury Department report, published last week.

The report mostly recommended that the government consider new methods of assessing the administration and effectiveness of the law, and did not suggest changing the law itself.

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“At least some of these agreements have enabled news businesses to, in particular, employ additional journalists and make other valuable investments to assist their operations,” said the report. “While views on the success or otherwise of the Code will invariably differ, we consider it is reasonable to conclude that the Code has been a success to date.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Apple, Amazon Resume Advertising on Twitter After Elon Musk Takeover: Reports

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Amazon and Apple are planning to resume advertising on Twitter, according to media reports on Saturday. The developments follow an email sent by Twitter on Thursday to advertising agencies offering advertisers incentives to increase their spending on the platform, an effort to jump-start its business after Elon Musk’s takeover prompted many companies to pull back.

Twitter billed the offer as the “biggest advertiser incentive ever on Twitter,” according to the email reviewed by Reuters. US advertisers who book $500,000 (roughly Rs. 4 crore) in incremental spending will qualify to have their spending matched with a “100 percent value add,” up to a $1 million (roughly Rs. 8 crore) cap, the email said.

On Saturday, a Platformer News reporter tweeted that Amazon is planning to resume advertising on Twitter at about $100 million (roughly Rs. 814 crore) a year, pending some security tweaks to the company’s ads platform.

However, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Amazon had never stopped advertising on Twitter.

Separately, during a Twitter Spaces conversation, Musk announced that Apple is the largest advertiser on Twitter and has “fully resumed” advertising on the platform, according to a Bloomberg report.

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Last week, Twitter’s new CEO accused Apple of threatening to block the microblogging service from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets that also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social media platform. The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

Musk’s first month as Twitter’s owner has included a slashing of staff including employees who work on content moderation and incidents of spammers impersonating major public companies, which has spooked the advertising industry.

See also  Elon Musk Accuses Twitter of Hiding Litigation Details Against Indian Government in $44 Billion Deal

Many companies from General Mills to luxury automaker Audi of America stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said in November that the company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.

Apple and Twitter did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on the matter.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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