Facebook will now take down content considered offensive only if it is issued a legal or government notice. “We have changed our process. So now, before we restrict content in India for illegality, we require that the government submit legal process to us, and we scrutinise that with our legal teams,” Global Policy Head of Facebook Monika Bickert told the Economic Times, adding that content will not be restricted if somebody outside the government flags it as offensive.

The move comes in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling from last year, when it read down Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, saying that a non-government request to remove online content can be entertained only if a court order is produced along with it. The court had also scrapped Section 66A of the act, according to which authorities had the power to penalise free speech on online platforms that were deemed offensive.

Facebook users have the option to flag or report content they may find objectionable, including photographs, posts, messages, comments, profiles, events and pages. The content is blocked or removed from the site if it is found to violate Facebook’s community standards. Bickert clarified that users will continue to have this option even with the new rules implemented.

India is Facebook’s second-largest market, with 142 million monthly active users. Between July and December last year, India had 14,971 content restriction requests – second only to France’s 37,695 requests – from legal and government agencies, as well as from NGOs and Facebook members, a report released by the social media giant on Thursday said. India also had 5,561 requests for user data, the second-highest after the United States’ 19,235.