Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

‘Toolkit’ tweeted by Greta Thunberg


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Toolkit

Mains level: Social media as a lobbying tool

The Delhi Police filed an FIR on charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting hatred against the creators of a ‘toolkit’ on farmer protests, which was shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Q.What do you mean by a social media toolkit? Discuss its potential mis-uses.

What is a Toolkit?

  • A toolkit is essentially a set of adaptable guidelines or suggestions to get something done. The contents differ depending on what the aim of the toolkit is.
  • For example, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has a toolkit for the implementation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
  • This includes basics such as the guidelines to follow when investigating IPR violations, applicable laws, and definitions of terms such as counterfeit and piracy.
  • In the context of protests, a toolkit usually includes reading material on the context of the protest, news article links and methods of protest (including on social media).

Why have they gained prominence?

  • While toolkits have been around for decades, the accessibility of social media has brought them into the spotlight over the past few years.
  • References to toolkits for protesters can be found in the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, in the Hong Kong protests of 2019, several climate protests across the world, anti-CAA protests across India.
  • During the Hong Kong protests, toolkits advised participants to wear masks and helmets to avoid being recognised and ways to put out tear gas shells.
  • During the anti-CAA protests, a toolkit suggesting twitter hashtags to use, places to hold protests, and a guide on what to do and carry with you if you are detained by the police were shared on social media.

Toolkit tweeted by Greta Thunberg

  • The 18-year-old shared a toolkit on Twitter on the anti-farm law protests in India.
  • This came on the heels of singer-businesswoman tweeting a news article on internet curbs near protest sites in and around Delhi.
  • The toolkit tweeted by Thunberg was later deleted, with the activist saying it was being updated by people on the ground in India.
  • The toolkit asked those interested to start a ‘Twitter storm’ to share solidarity photo/video message by social media users.

It is being speculated that the document was proof that an international conspiracy is being hatched to defame India and the central government over the ongoing farmers’ protest.

What is the recent apprehension?

  • The police have said that during the inquiry it appears that the toolkit was created by Poetic Justice Foundation.
  • It says the prior action section delineated the action plan for January 26, when violence was seen at several areas as a group of farmers diverted from the set route and started marching towards the Red Fort.
  • The unfolding of events over the past few days, including the violence of 26th January, has revealed copycat execution of the ‘action plan’ detailed in the tool kit.
  • The intention of the creators of the tool kits appeared to be to create disharmony among various social, religious and cultural groups and encourage disaffection and ill-will against the state and the nation at large.

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