Web groups face further crackdowns
Regional - 2012 is turning out to be a tough year for Internet giants with governments cracking down on user-generated content in a bid to gain more control over what is shared.
The latest example is India where internet giants Google and Facebook have been slapped with a court order forcing them to remove content from their sites.
They are among 21 companies that have been ordered to block material that were considered religiously offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
This was in light of a law India passed last year to manage online content. The law stated companies are responsible for user content posted on their websites. If a complaint should be filed against it, the company would be given 36 hours to remove it.
"There will always be controversy relating to online content wherever you live in the world," Jonathan Mackenzie, director of platform strategy at OMD, said.
"The management of online content presents particular challenges, especially when it relates to user generated content."
He said Facebook, YouTube and Blogger have built platforms that empower individuals to create and share their own content.
"However, their monetisation of this content through advertising places a responsibility of ownership on them and as a result they have a responsibility to manage it accordingly," he added.
It is difficult to regulate a large volume of content uploaded on the Internet in various formats. For this reason, Mackenzie reckons these platforms have only users to tap into for help.
"Many platforms have integrated self-policing methods into these platforms, whereby users provide feedback through ratings or reports to alert them to offensive material and this has proven to work effectively in maintaining the spirit of the community and the integrity of the content," he said.
So with an increase in user-generated content on the Internet, its extent and influence of its reach, will the Internet continue to face more challenges?
"Sadly, I think we might," Mackenzie said.
Government leaders are finding it hard to find a solution that balances creativity with control, with many resorting to taking the legal way out.
However, perhaps the solution is not to shutdown online content but to present users with guidelines and maintain a level of control amongst users. Mackenzie suggested that governments could choose to adopt a more coordinated organisation of regulation, monitoring and accountability instead.
"My hope is that this will inspire greater effort towards self-regulation and accountability," he added.
Follow @MarketingEds on Twitter for breaking news throughout the day.
Have something to say? Comment on our Facebook page or contact the writer at email@example.com.