Daily News Analysis

SOCIAL MEDIA

6th October, 2021 Polity

Figure 2: No Copyright Infringement Intended

Context

  • Social media platforms have made clear that self-regulation is not working, the White House asserted

Background

  • In the internet of things, ideas take a gigantic leap every day and disruption (both good and bad) is the norm.
  • One such disruption which has revolutionized the way information is exchanged in real time has been the advent of Social media.
  • It has triggered an information revolution the world over that has forced people, governments and organizations, both public and private, to rethink strategies on how they manage their information and engage in an increasingly interconnected world.
  • It has challenged information hierarchies, opened up access and produced an entirely new ecosystem of information exchange. Technological innovations are rapid and constantly evolving, making barriers, borders and control irrelevant.
  • The latest figures peg social media users in India at 143 million and a 100 percent jump in the number of users in rural India from 2014 to 2015.
  • The report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India says, “The fact that almost two thirds of the users are already accessing social media through their mobiles is a promising sign.
  • With the expected increase in mobile traffic the number of users accessing social media on the mobile is only bound to increase,”
  • Despite internet penetration not crossing 16% of the population, the availability of low cost mobile devices has become a game changer.

Impact of social media

  • For the Indian government, the internet remains the chosen platform for socio-economic empowerment schemes, which also makes India uniquely dependent on internet platforms for its development while, at the same time, it heightens the risks of India’s vulnerabilities.
  • In a more ugly turn of events, mobile and social network interfaces were used to send offensive clips and hate messages that triggered panic and mass exodus of north east Indians from large parts of India in the aftermath of the ethnic clashes in Assam in 2012.
  • In September 2013, a morphed video on YouTube was used to fan communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and led to mass panic.
  • These incidents snowballed into a cyber-security challenge and exposed a facet of the medium that could be exploited by anti-national elements and required immediate attention.

Regulation of social media

  • The New IT Rules pertain to OTT platforms, social media as well as digital news media organisations.
  • However, digital news media organisations are already bound by the Press Council of India’s code of ethics.

Associated Supreme Court Cases:

  • The genesis of these rules lies in the Prajwala case v/s union of India, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the government to frame the necessary guidelines/Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and implement them to “eliminate child pornography, rape and gang rape imagery, videos, and sites in content hosting platforms and other applications”.
  • In Tehseen S. Poonawalla, 2018 case, the SC gave the government full freedom to stop/curb dissemination of “irresponsible and explosive messages on various social media platforms, which have a tendency to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind”.

Threats associated with social media

  • cyberbullying (bullying using digital technology)
  • invasion of privacy.
  • identity theft.
  • your child seeing offensive images and messages.
  • the presence of strangers who may be there to 'groom' other members