Microblogging website Twitter on Wednesday became the first American social media platform to lose its intermediary status in India. The San Francisco-based company will now be liable for the ‘unlawful’ content put up by its users, Times of India reports. 

Why has Twitter lost its legal immunity?

Twitter's loss of its 'safe harbour' is attributed to its failure to appoint statutory officers in keeping with the country’s new IT law. Originally the deadline for companies to appoint a statutory officer was set at May 25. However, many platforms, including Twitter, failed to comply with the rules, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

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While other social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram complied with the rules, Twitter did not take any action. Google submitted details of new compliance officers to the IT ministry by May-end. 

The Centre, on June 5, issued a final notice asking Twitter to comply with the statutory provisions or risk losing its intermediary status. However, Twitter failed and thus loses its intermediary protection.

Twitter, however, announced on Tuesday that it appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer in India. 

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What is Section 79 of the IT Act, 2001, root of intermediary protection?

Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2001 gives internet intermediaries legal protection against the content put up on their websites. In simple terms, it means that if a social media platform acts as a bridge to carry a message from one person to another without any kind of interference, then it will not be liable for any legal action.

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Case registered against Twitter in UP

An elderly Muslim was reportedly beaten up in a town in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district on 5 June and the video went viral on Twitter. Tweets about the incident indicated that the victim was forced to chant 'Jai Shree Ram' by the attackers. However, a communal angle was denied by the Ghaziabad Police. An FIR was filed on June 15 against nine accused, including Twitter Inc and Twitter Communications India Pvt.