With fake news causing mayhem for social media companies in 2018, Bengaluru-based vernacular social and content platform ShareChat has taken up a cleanliness drive for pornographic, violent and fake content after reports showcased toxic content on such platforms.
The company reportedly banned the profiles after running a campaign, encouraging users to identify and report problematic content and users of recently added eastern Indian languages.
It had similar drives in other languages as well but did not share the number of profiles taken down.
Founded by IIT-Kanpur alumni, Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh and Ankush Sachdeva, in October 2015, Sharechat allows users to create, discover, and share content with each other. It has seen daily active users increase from 5 Mn in April-May to over 8 Mn in end-2018. The company has about 50 employees and covers 14 regional languages.
ShareChat’s chief operating officer and cofounder Ahsan, reportedly said that the company has a robust set of guidelines that users adhere to and in case of offence, they take actions, which include repeat offenders being blocked. The team believes seeking help from users to identify content is the easiest way to handle this.
ShareChat uses algorithms to pick up 50-60 signals while skimming through content on its platform, which remains unencrypted. Problematic content is bucketed to categories of porn, violence, fake news, hate speech, spam, impersonation and so on.
However, scouring through the company’s “content and community guidelines” it is interesting to note that the company while cleaning up pornographic content, is supporting “non-veg” content, asking users to include them under the tag, and this “includes adult humour or sexually suggestive content.”
“The purpose of the NV tag is to give adults a place to share adult content with a tinge of humour or fun. Do not misuse it,” the company’s guidelines say.
The 12-point “content guidelines” prohibit violent content, except to provide information, education or spread awareness; allows “limited sexual imagery”, strongly urges against hate content or propaganda, supports authentic products, among others.
The company, on its part, has introduced “reporting” of content, which violates these guidelines, and if it finds the content or activity to be unsuitable for its platform, they will remove it. However, it takes some time to take down such content.
It is to be noted that the government has sprung into action in 2018 against social media websites, targeting their content, be it for violence or fake news. Facebook and Twitter heads had to meet the government to share their plans on ensuring safety on their platforms, while chat messaging app WhatsApp has been running around government corridors to launch its payment services, the delay being because of fake news being shared on its platform.
The companies have been actively working to target fake news propaganda ahead of elections, and the latest warning came when the government was examining plans to enforce penalties such as shutting down of the apps and websites if they fail to comply with IT Law.
[The development was reported by ET.]