NCW tells Twitter to remove pornographic and obscene content

NCW tells Twitter to remove pornographic and obscene content

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After Delhi police registered an FIR against Twitter over the availability of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on the microblogging platform at the request of NCPCR, now the National Commission for Women (NCW) has sought action against the social media site over the availability of pornographic material.

A statement issued by the NCW said that the commission has taken suo moto cognisance of several profiles on Twitter that share pornographic content. It said that the commission chairperson Rekha Sharma has written to the Managing Director of Twitter India asking them to immediately remove all such ‘pornographic and obscene content from the platform within a week’.

NCW said that earlier also the matter was brought to Twitter’s notice after receiving complaints, but no action was taken by the platform. “The Commission is disturbed with the fact that despite knowing of the availability of such banned content which not only violates Indian laws but also Twitter’s own policy, no action has been taken till date towards removing them,” NCW said in the press note dated 30th June.

The Commission said that it has shared with Twitter details of a few profiles sharing pornographic content on Twitter and has directed to remove all such content within one week. The platform has also been asked to communicate the action taken within 10 days.

Pornography on Twitter violates new IT rules

The move by NCW comes after the enactment of Information Technology Rules, which prescribes several guidelines for social media platforms like Twitter. As per section 4(1)(b)(ii) of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, sharing or publishing of pornographic material on social media platforms is not allowed. Thus, Twitter is violating the IT rules by allowing pornographic material on its platform and making them accessible in India.

It is notable that Twitter has lost the intermediary status after it refused to appoint India based compliance and grievance redressal officers. Most other social media companies like Facebook, Google, WhatsApp etc have complied with the rules.

Twitter allows consented pornography on its platform

Although pornographic material on Twitter violates the IT rules, it does not violate Twitter’s own policies. Twitter is among the few social media platforms that allow sharing of pornographic material. Twitter does not allow promotion of adult sexual content, and pornographic material can’t be shared in prominent places like display picture, header image etc. But porn material, both images and videos, can be shared in Tweets.

Pornographic videos and images featuring adults with their consent are allowed to be shared on Twitter. However, such material are required to be marked as sensitive material. A large number of porn artists use Twitter to drive users to their subscription-based pages on platforms such as Onlyfan.

Facebook does not allow any pornography on both Facebook and Instagram.

Twitter vs NCPCR

On June 29, Delhi Police Cyber Cell registered a case against Twitter for availability of child pornographic content on their platform. It was done after NCPCR had written to Delhi Police in May asking to file FIR against Twitter for not co-operating in removing Child Sexual Abuse Material, and also for lying that Twitter India is not linked to US based parent company Twitter Inc.

Last year, the Commission had issued notices to companies like Google, Twitter, WhatsApp, Apple India etc to know about steps taken by them to remove and prevent CSAM on their platforms.  NCPCR had said that as Twitter allows child above 13 years of age to join the platform, it can’t allow pornographic material on the platform. NCPCR also had said that links to WhatsApp groups with CSAM were also being shared on Twitter. The commission had said that the tech companies will have to comply with the rules to remove CSAM as per relevant sections of the POCSO act.

However, while responding the notice, Twitter Communications India Pvt Ltd had told NCPCR that they are not responsible for content shared on Twitter, and it is the responsibility of the American parent company. They had claimed that they have no relation with Twitter Inc. But NCPCR found this claim to be false, as they found that out of 10,000 shares of Twitter India, 9,999 are owned by Twitter Inc. Moreover, 2 of the three directors on the board of Twitter Communications India are employees of Twitter Inc.

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