Social Media Laws and its Implications

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In this modern era of technology, social media is becoming an important component of daily life and the majority of the youth today prefer to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and opinions through it. There are different social media platforms that allow users to access social news, blogs, vlogs, and others in an easy manner. Some of the social media networking sites used extensively include Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They help in enhancing social connectivity by allowing their users to share information through writing, music, and images quickly and unaffected by distance. Despite the fact that there are tremendous benefits of using social media, there are certain areas of concern such as privacy and security which are required to be addressed. One inaccurate or false piece of information posted by an individual on social media may lead to a negative impact on society. The media should focus on providing truth to the people of different cultures and religions as well as restrict the spread of false and incorrect information for eliminating hatred and communal problems.

Need for Social Media Laws

Social Media Laws are required to deal with the crimes emerging these days due to the excessive use of social media platforms. These laws provide remedies in both civil and criminal manner for protecting the prohibited content. There are various laws associated with social media litigation which include Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Communication Decency Act for solving cybercrime or cyberspace problems. 

Due to the anonymity and quackery of social media, there is an increase in online violence affecting people of all ages. In order to reduce social media-related crimes including stalking, harassment, bullying, and threats, social media laws are required. For instance, recent riots in some Indian states due to the circulation of fake news video violence through Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp lead to severe damage. This is the reason that there is a need for strong social media laws in our country. 

Grievances Redressal Mechanism

Any individual who has a grievance regarding content published by another individual can issue his grievance on the grievance mechanism rather than blocking or ignoring the issue. Grievance redressal is performed by following an appropriate sequence as discussed below:

  • The grievance should be addressed by the publisher and within 15 days of the registration, they should inform the complainant about their decision.
  • If the publisher does not communicate their decision to the complainant within the given time then it is escalated to the self-regulatory body where publisher is a member.
  • If the complainant is not satisfied with publisher’s decision then they can appeal to the self-regulatory body within 15 days of receiving the decision.
  • After this, the self-regulatory body addressed the grievance and convey the decision to the publisher in the form of advisory or guidance. They also inform the complainant about the made decision within 15 days.
  • If the complainant is not satisfied with the self-regulatory body’s decision then they can appeal to the Oversight Mechanism within a period of 15 days of the decision.

Remedies under Indian Law regarding Social Media

The Information Technology Act

Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) is a primary law in India for dealing with matters related to e-commerce and cybercrime. The main objective of this Act is to grant legal recognition to transactions performed via electronic data exchange or any other means rather than paper-based communication. It also provides legal recognition to digital signatures and gives legal sanctions to enable e-governance. Under this law, penalties are prescribed for different frauds and crimes involving computers or a network. Along with this, certain provisions of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) are amended in the Information Technology Act which includes the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, the Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934, and the Banker’s Book Evidence Act of 1891. Some of the sections of the IT Act are listed as follows:

  • Section 66A: This section of the IT Act gives the power to arrest anyone sending messages or posting content on social media that could be deemed offensive. Also, it’s offensive to send any wrong or false information for the purpose of spreading hatred, annoyance, inconvenience, obstruction, danger, enmity, insult, and criminal intimidation. Such activity is punishable and as per the law, three years of imprisonment with a fine is the penalty imposed on the criminal.
  • Section 69A: According to this section, the government has the authority to monitor, decrypt or intercept any information that is not consistent with provisions of the government. It empowers the authorities to block internet sites by following an appropriate procedure. The recent banning of Chinese applications was done under Section 69A of the IT Act. The one who did not comply with the provisions of this section is punished with imprisonment and a fine. 

Constitution of India

It provides basic rights to Indian citizens which helps them in protecting their basic life interests. If these rights are violated, various remedial measures are provided to them. In Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, the Right to freedom of speech and expression is mentioned which ensures that every individual has the right to present their thoughts to others. This means that they can raise their voice against any wrongdoing that happened to them or any other person they know.

Indian Penal Code

Indian Penal Code (IPC) is addressed as the official criminal code of India aimed at covering all essential areas of criminal law. Anyone found guilty of a crime related to property, the human body, conspiracy, or social media is punishable under the provisions of the IPC. There are different Sections in the IPC, 1860 which deals with crimes related to social media. Some of the Sections identified for the same are illustrated as follows:

  • Section 124A: It mainly deals with sedition, a criminal act that encourages the opposition to rebel against the Government.
  • Section 153A: The purpose of this Section is to punish those who attack the religion, place of birth, language, and race of any particular religion or group. 
  • Section 295A: The main objective of this Section is to punish those who defame religion or religious belief on purpose. 
  • Section 499: It primarily deals with defamation where an individual faced legal consequences for making a defamatory comment either verbally or in writing with a motive to destroy someone’s reputation. 
  • Section 505: Under this Section of IPC, anyone who makes statements promoting public annoyance faces legal consequences.
  • Section 506: An individual who tries to intimidate the other person either physically or with the help of any electronic means will amount to an offense resulting in the punishment of imprisonment for a few years or a fine or both.
  • Section 509: Deals with the crime of disrespecting women’s modesty and the punishment for the same will be imprisonment of one year or a fine.

Duties of Social Media

An intermediary should inform the user of its computer resource not to publish, display, update, modify, store or share information that belongs to another person, is defamatory, obscene, paedophilic, pornographic, and infringes intellectual rights. Online activities that threaten the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India should be avoided and its friendly relations with foreign States should not suffer. 

Related Case Law

  • Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India: In this case, police made an arrest of two women under Section 66A for posting comments on Facebook after the death of a political leader. The Supreme Court of India invalidated Section 66A of the Information technology Act, 2000 as it was unconstitutional.


We live in a world where technology has become ubiquitous, as has the threat of cybercrime. In spite of the fact that there are numerous laws protecting victims of cybercrime or social media-related crimes, the need for new laws cannot be ruled out. Government should introduce the Right to be forgotten for control over personal data being given in some European countries. Along with this, strict action should be taken against wrongdoers so as to reduce the consequences of cybercrime.

1. Is there a Right to be Forgotten in India?
2. Which is the primary Act for social media laws in India?