Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Loss of Safe Harbour for Twitter

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Social media content issue

Twitter has reportedly lost the coveted “safe harbour” immunity in India after failing to appoint statutory officers on time, as mandated by the new Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021.

What is the news?

  • With this, the social media giant becomes the only American platform to have lost the protective shield – granted under Section 79 of the IT Act.
  • Its rival platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp remain protected.
  • The new development could mean that Twitter’s senior executives that include its India managing director, face legal actions under relevant IPC for ‘unlawful’ activities on the platform – even if conducted by users.

Why such a move?

  • Earlier this week, Twitter said it appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), and the details of the officer were not yet shared with the government.
  • The company also posted job openings for a Nodal Officer and Resident Grievance Officer – the two key positions mandated by the central government’s IT Rules, 2021.

What is safe harbour protection?

  • According to Section 79 of IT Act, 2000, “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him,” therefore providing Safe Harbour protection.
  • To put it simply, the law notes that intermediaries such as Twitter or your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not liable to punishment if third parties (users) misuse the infrastructure, in this case, the platform.
  • However, the protection is guaranteed only when the intermediary does not ‘initiate the transmission,’ ‘select the receiver of the transmission,’ and ‘modify the information contained in the transmission.’
  • It means that as long as the platform acts just as the medium to carry out messages from users A to user B, that is, without interfering in any manner, it will be safe from any legal prosecution.

Inception of the concept

  • In its original form, the IT Act 2000 provided little or no Safe Harbour protection to internet intermediaries as the definition of the intermediary was restricted.
  • However, things began changing in 2004, in a case where a student posted an obscene clip for sale.
  • The student and the CEO of that company were both held later for letting pornographic material circulate online.
  • The CEO challenged the proceedings against him, contending that he could not be personally held liable for the listing and that the MMS was transferred directly between the seller and buyer without the intervention of the website.
  • The executive was acquitted, the case eventually resulted in the addition of Section 79 in the IT Act to provide immunity to intermediaries.

Why has Twitter lost the protection?

  • Over the years, social media platforms have evolved and often tend to act as gatekeepers.
  • For instance, Twitter banning Donald Trump and adding “manipulated media” label on select posts have been questioned by excerpts.
  • In other words, an intermediary’s ability to “modify the information contained in the transmission,” opens rooms for revision of the law, experts believe.
  • Hence, the government introduced the IT Rules 2021 in December last year and implemented it in May 2021.
  • As per the new order, all social media platforms with more than 50 lakh (five million) users will need to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, a Nodal Contact Person, and a Resident Grievance Officer from India to smoothen the grievance mechanism for citizens.
  • The officers will need to acknowledge queries with 24 hours and resolve them in 15 days from the date of receipt.

What can happen next?

  • Once a company loses the Safe Harbour protection, technically, officials are liable to punishment if a post even by a third user violates local laws.
  • The new IT Rules 2021 do not mention any ban for non-compliance.
  • But with an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, Twitter would likely fill key positions soon to comply with the new norms laid by the government.
  • As mentioned, the company already appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer earlier.
  • This, according to the government, means that the protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, accorded to Twitter for being a social media intermediary, now stands withdrawn.

How does this impact Twitter?

  • If someone puts out any content on Twitter that leads to some form of violence, or violates any Indian law with respect to content, not only the person that has put out the tweet will be held responsible.
  • Even Twitter will be legally liable for the content as it no longer has the protection.

Is there something else that can happen subsequently?

  • In the longer run, there is also the theoretical possibility that Twitter might be subjected to the 26 per cent cap of direct foreign investment in media and publishing.
  • This in turn means that the platform may be forced to look for an Indian buyer for the remaining 74 per cent stake.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

New IT Rules is not the way forward

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IT Act 2000

Mains level : Paper 3- Issues involved in traceability of originator of information on social media

The article deals with the issues involved in the traceability requirement of the originator of information on social media platform as per new IT Rules.

Traceability clause and issues involved

  • Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 imposes certain obligation on significant social media intermediaries.
  • Rule 4(2) puts an obligations to ensure traceability of the originator of information on their platforms.
  • Consequently, WhatsApp has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court.
  • WhatsApp contends that the mandate for traceability violates the privacy rights of Indian citizens, by rendering WhatsApp unable to provide encrypted services.

Government’s response

  • The Government primarily relies on the argument that: privacy is not an absolute right, and that the traceability obligation is proportionate, and sufficiently restricted.
  • Notably, the new Rules mandate traceability only in the case of significant social media intermediaries i.e. those that meet a user threshold of 50 lakh users, which WhatsApp does.
  • Traceability is also subject to an order being passed by a court or government agency and only in the absence of any alternatives.
  • While it is indeed true that privacy is not an absolute right, the Supreme Court of India in the two K.S. Puttaswamy decisions of 2017 and 2018 has laid conditions for restricting this right.
  • In Puttaswamy cases, the Supreme Court clarified that any restriction on this right must be necessary, proportionate and include safeguards against abuse.

Issues with traceability

  • Not proportionate: A general obligation to enable traceability as a systemic feature across certain types of digital services is neither suitable nor proportionate.
  • No safeguard against abuse: The Rules lack effective safeguards in that they fail to provide any system of independent oversight over tracing requests made by the executive.
  • This allows government agencies the ability to seek any messaging user’s identity, virtually at will.
  • Presumption of criminality:  Weakening encryption — which a traceability mandate would do — would compromise the privacy and security of all individuals at all times, despite no illegal activity on their part, and would create a presumption of criminality.

Way forward

  • Explore the alternatives: The Government already has numerous alternative means of securing relevant information to investigate online offences including by accessing unencrypted data such as metadata, and other digital trails from intermediaries.
  • Already has ability to access encrypted data: The surveillance powers of the Government are in any case vast and overreaching, recognised even by the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee report of 2018.
  • Importantly, the Government already has the ability to access encrypted data under the IT Act.
  • Notably, Section 69(3) of the Information Technology Act and Rules 17 and 13 of the Information Technology Rules, 2009 require intermediaries to assist with decryption where they have the technical ability to do so, and where law enforcement has no alternatives.
  • Judicial scrutiny of Section 79 of IT Act: The ability of the government to issue obligations under the guise of “due diligence” requirements under Section 79 of the IT Act must be subject to judicial scrutiny.
  • Legislative changes needed: The long-term solution would be for legislative change along multiple avenues, including in the form of revising and reforming the now antiquated IT Act, 2000.

Consider the question “What are the issues involved in the traceability of the originator of the information on social media platforms as mandated by the new IT Rules 2021? Suggest the way forward.”

Conclusion

While, undoubtedly, there are numerous problems in the digital ecosystem that are often exacerbated or indeed created by the way intermediaries function, ill-considered regulation of the sort represented by the new intermediary rules is not the way forward.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

New IT Rules 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Provisions of IT Rules 2021

Mains level : Paper 3- Issues with IT Rules 2021

The article highlights the issues with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Important provision made in the IT Rules 2021

  • The Rules mandate duties such as removal of non-consensual intimate pictures within 24 hours.
  • The rules also mandates publication of compliance reports to increase transparency.
  • Rules provides for setting up of a dispute resolution mechanism for content removal.
  • It provides for adding a label to information for users to know whether content is advertised, owned, sponsored or exclusively controlled.

Issues with the rules

1) Affects right to free speech and expression

  • The Supreme Court, in the case of Life Insurance Corpn. Of India vs Prof. Manubhai D. Shah (1992) had elevated ‘the freedom to circulate one’s views as the lifeline of any democratic institution’.
  • So, the rules need to be critically scrutinised for the recent barriers being imposed by it.

2) Violation of legal principles

  • The rules were framed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY).
  • However, the Second Schedule of the Business Rules, 1961 does not empower MeiTY to frame regulations for digital media.
  • This power belongs to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • This action violates the legal principle of ‘colourable legislation’ where the legislature cannot do something indirectly if it is not possible to do so directly.
  • Moreover, the Information Technology Act, 2000, does not regulate digital media.
  • Therefore, the new IT Rules which claim to be a piece of subordinate legislation of the IT Act, goes beyond the rule-making power conferred upon them by the IT Act.
  • This makes the Rules ultra vires to the Act.

3) Deprives the fair recourse to intermediary

  • An intermediary is now supposed to take down content within 36 hours upon receiving orders from the Government.
  • This deprives the intermediary of a fair recourse in the event that it disagrees with the Government’s order due to a strict timeline.

4) Privacy violation

  • These Rules undermine the right to privacy by imposing a traceability requirement.
  • The immunity that users received from end-to-end encryption was that intermediaries did not have access to the contents of their messages.
  • Imposing this mandatory requirement of traceability will break this immunity, thereby weakening the security of the privacy of these conversations.
  • This will also render all the data from these conversations vulnerable to attack from ill-intentioned third parties.
  • The threat here is not only one of privacy but to the extent of invasion and deprivation from a safe space.
  • Recent data breach affecting a popular pizza delivery chain and also several airlines highlights the risks involved in such move in the absence of data protection law.
  • Instead of eliminate the fake news, the Rules proceed to hurriedly to take down whatever authority may deem as “fake news”.

5) Operational cost

  • The Rules create additional operational costs for intermediaries by requiring them to have Indian resident nodal officers, compliance officers and grievance officers.
  • Intermediaries are also required to have offices located in India.
  • This makes profit making a far-fetched goal for multinational corporations and start-up intermediary enterprises.
  • Therefore, not only do these Rules place a barrier on the “marketplace of ideas” but also on the economic market of intermediaries in general by adding redundant financial burdens.

Consider the question “What are the challenges associated with the social media? How the  Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 will help is dealing with these challenges? What are the issues with these rules?”

Conclusion

Democracy stands undermined in direct proportion to every attack made on the citizen’s right. The IT Rules 2021 have tilt towards violation of rights. Therefore, these rules need reconsideration.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Explained: Social Media and Safe Harbour

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Social media regulation

The new rules for social media platforms and digital news outlets called the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code has come into effect.

New guidelines for digital media

  • The guidelines had asked all social media platforms to set up a grievances redressal and compliance mechanism.
  • This included appointing a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person.
  • The IT Ministry had also asked these platforms to submit monthly reports on complaints received from users and action taken.
  • A third requirement was for instant messaging apps was to make provisions for tracking the first originator of a message.
  • Failure to comply with any one of these requirements would take away the indemnity provided to social media intermediaries under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.

What is Section 79 of the IT Act?

  • Section 79 says any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted on its platform.
  • This protection, the Act says, shall be applicable if the said intermediary does not in any way, initiate the transmission of the message in question, select the receiver of the transmitted message and does not modify any information contained in the transmission.
  • This means that as long as a platform acts just as the messenger carrying a message from point A to point B, without interfering in any manner, it will be safe from any legal prosecution.
  • The intermediary must not tamper with any evidence of these messages or content present on its platform, failing which it loses its protection under the Act.

Effect of non-compliance

  • As of now, nothing changes overnight. Social media intermediaries will continue to function as they were, without any hiccups.
  • People will also be able to post and share content on their pages without any disturbance.
  • Social media intermediaries such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have so far not appointed any officer or contact person as required under the new rules.
  • They have also failed to submit monthly action taken reports on grievances and complaints submitted to them by users. Thus, protection under Section 79 of the IT Act does will not hold for them.

Liabilities with the new rules

  • Further, Rule 4(a) of the IT Rules mandates that significant social media intermediaries must appoint a chief compliance officer (CCO) who would be held liable in case the intermediary fails to observe the due diligence requirements.
  • This means that if a tweet, a Facebook post or a post on Instagram violates the local laws, the law enforcement agency would be well within its rights to book not only the person sharing the content but the executives of these companies as well.

Global norms on safe harbour protection

  • As most of the bigger social media intermediaries have their headquarters in the US, the most keenly watched is Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
  • This provides Internet companies a safe harbour from any content users post of these platforms.
  • Experts believe it is this provision in the US law that enabled companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to become global conglomerates.
  • Like Section 79 of India’s IT Act, this Section 230 states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”.
  • This effectively means that the intermediary shall only be like a bookstore owner who cannot be held accountable for the books in the store unless there is a connection.

Repercussions of the rules in India

  • WhatsApp has approached the Delhi High Court challenging the new Rules which include a requirement for social media platforms to compulsorily enable “the identification of the first originator of the information” in India upon government or court order.
  • It argued that this provision forces it “to break end-to-end encryption on its messaging service, as well as the privacy principles underlying it.

Must read:

[Burning Issue] New IT Rules 2021

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Kerala HC restrains Centre over new IT Rules

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New IT Rules

Mains level : Free speech related issues

The Kerala High Court has restrained the Centre from taking coercive action against a legal news portal, for any non-compliance with Part III of the new IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

What was the petition?

Three-tier mechanism

  • The petition said Part III of the rules imposed unconstitutional three-tier complaints and adjudication structure on publishers.
  • This administrative regulation on digital news media would make it virtually impossible for small or medium-sized publishers, such as the petitioner, to function.
  • It would have a chilling effect on such entities, the petition said.
  • The creation of a grievance redressal mechanism, through a governmental oversight body (an inter-departmental committee constituted under Rule 14) amounted to excessive regulation, the petitioner contended.

Violation of free speech

  • The petitioner pointed out that Rule 4(2), which makes it mandatory for every social media intermediary to enable tracing of originators of information on its platform, violated Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression).
  • It also deprived the intermediaries of their “safe-harbour protection” under Section 79 of the IT Act.

Violation of Right to Privacy

  • The rules obligate messaging intermediaries to alter their infrastructure to “fingerprint” each message on a mass scale for every user to trace the first originator.
  • This was violative of the fundamental right of Internet users to privacy.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

In Centre’s IT rules, there is accountability with costs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Regulation of social media

The article examines the issues with  Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Change in the immunity for social media platforms

  • With the social media platforms amassing tremendous power, the Government of India and has over time sought to devise a core framework to governs social media.
  • This framework known as the “intermediary liability” has been made legally through Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • This framework has been supplemented by operational rules, and the Supreme Court judgment in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India.
  • All this legalese essentially provides large technology companies immunity for the content that is transmitted and stored by them.
  • Recently, the Government of India announced drastic changes to it through the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

Issues with the Rules

1) Privacy concern

  • The regulations do contain some features that bring accountability to social media platforms.
  • For instance, they require that prior to a content takedown, a user should be provided adequate notice.
  • However, there are several provisions in the rules that raise privacy concerns.
  • Take traceability, where instant messaging platforms which deploy end-to-end encryption that helps keep our conversations private will now effectively be broken.
  • This is because now the government may require that each message sent through WhatsApp or any other similar application be tied to the identity of the user.
  • When put in the larger context of an environment that is rife with cybersecurity threats, an inconsistent rule of law and the absence of any surveillance oversight, this inspires fear and self-censorship among users.
  • The core of the traceability requirement undermines the core value of private conversations.

2) Regulation without clear legal backing

  • The rules seek to regulate digital news media portals as well as online video streaming platforms.
  • Rules will perform functions similar to those played by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for TV regulation.
  • For instance, as per Rule 13(4), this also now includes powers of censorship such as apology scrolls, but also blocking of content.
  • All of this is being planned to be done without any legislative backing or a clear law made by Parliament.
  • A similar problem exists with digital news media portals.
  • The purview of the Information Technology Act, 2000, is limited.
  • It only extends to the blocking of websites and intermediary liabilities framework, but does not extend to content authors and creators.
  • Hence, the Act does not extend to news media despite which it is being stretched to do so by executive fiat.
  • The oversight function will be played by a body that is not an autonomous regulator but one composed of high ranking bureaucrats.
  • This provides for the discretionary exercise of government powers of censorship over these sectors.

Way forward

  • This could have ideally been achieved through more deliberative, parliamentary processes and by examining bodies in other democracies, which face similar challenges.
  • For instance, OFCOM, a regulator in the United Kingdom, has been studying and enforcing regulations that promise higher levels of protection for citizens’ rights and consistency in enforcement.
  • Instead, the present formulation increases government control that suffers from legality and core design faults.
  • It will only increase political control.

Consider the question “What is the purpose of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and what are the concerns with these rules?”

Conclusion

While every internet user in India needs oversight and accountability from big tech, it should not be at the cost of increasing political control, chilling our voices online and hurting individual privacy.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Regulation of social media and ott platforms

For the first time, the union government, under the ambit of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, has brought in detailed guidelines for digital content on both digital media and Over The Top (OTT) platforms.

Try answering this

Q.What is Over the Top (OTT) media services? Critically analyse the benefits and challenges offered by the OTT media services in India.

Guidelines Related to Social Media

  • Due Diligence To Be Followed By Intermediaries: The Rules prescribe due diligence that must be followed by intermediaries, including social media intermediaries. In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism: The Rules seek to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims.
  • Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users, Especially Women Users: Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that erodes individual privacy and dignity.

Additional Due Diligence to Be Followed by Significant Social Media Intermediary:

  • Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules. Such a person should be a resident of India.
  • Appoint a Nodal Contact Person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Such a person shall be a resident in India.
  • Appoint a Resident Grievance Officer who shall perform the functions mentioned under the Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Such a person shall be a resident in India.
  • Publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints.
  • Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable identification of the first originator of the information.

Digital Media Ethics Code Relating to Digital Media and OTT Platforms

This Code of Ethics prescribes the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.

(a) Self-Classification of Content

  • The OTT platforms, called the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories– U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
  • Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
  • The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor.

(b) Norms for news

  • Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

(c) Self-regulation by the Publisher

  • Publisher shall appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it.
  • The officer shall take a decision on every grievance received it within 15 days.

(d) Self-Regulatory Body

  • There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court or independent eminent person and have not more than six members.
  • Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not to be been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.

(e) Oversight Mechanism

  • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall formulate an oversight mechanism.
  • It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices.
  • It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.

Back2Basics: Social Media usage in India

  • The Digital India programme has now become a movement that is empowering common Indians with the power of technology.
  • The extensive spread of mobile phones, the Internet etc. has also enabled many social media platforms to expand their footprints in India.
  • Some portals, which publish analysis about social media platforms and which have not been disputed, have reported the following numbers as the user base of major social media platforms in India:
  1. WhatsApp users: 53 Crore
  2. YouTube users: 44.8 Crore
  3. Facebook users: 41 Crore
  4. Instagram users: 21 Crore
  5. Twitter users: 1.75 Crore
  • These social platforms have enabled common Indians to show their creativity, ask questions, be informed and freely share their views, including constructive criticism of the government and its functionaries.
  • The govt acknowledges and respects the right of every Indian to criticize and disagree as an essential element of democracy.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Australia vs Facebook Row

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Social media regulation

The social media giant Facebook is locked in a battle with Australia over legislation that would require FB, Google to pay for news outlets.

Row over the news on social media

  • Australia had proposed a law called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020.
  • It seeks to mandate a bargaining code that aims to force Google and Facebook to compensate media companies for using their content.

Imagine if the case arises in India where tons of news channels and impulsive journalists are dying off hard to gather TRPs!

Response from the ‘giants’

  • Google had threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia in response to the legislation, which would create a panel to make pricing decisions on the news.
  • Facebook responded by blocking users from accessing and sharing Australian news.

Why countries are bringing such legislation?

  • Australia has launched a global diplomatic offensive to support its proposed law to force Internet giants Facebook and Google to pay media companies.
  • Google accounts for 53% of Australian online advertising revenue and Facebook for 23%.
  • The legislation sets a precedent in regulating social media across geographies and is being closely watched the world over.

What is happening in other countries?

  • Australia’s proposed law would be the first of its kind, but other governments also are pressuring Google, Facebook and other internet companies to pay news outlets and other publishers for the material.
  • In Europe, Google had to negotiate with French publishers after a court last year upheld an order saying such agreements were required by a 2019 EU copyright directive.
  • France is the first government to enforce the rules, but the decision suggests Google, Facebook and other companies will face similar requirements in other parts of the 27-nation trade bloc.

The ‘doubted’ reluctance

  • Last year, Facebook announced it would pay US news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and USA Today for headlines.
  • In Spain, Google shut down its news website after a 2014 law required it to pay publishers.

Why does this matter?

  • Developments in Australia and Europe suggest the financial balance between multibillion-dollar internet companies and news organizations might be shifting.
  • Australia is responding to complaints by news reports, magazine articles and other content that appears on their websites or is shared by users.
  • The government acted after its competition regulator tried and failed to negotiate a voluntary payment plan with Google.
  • The proposed law would create a panel to make binding decisions on the price of news reports to help give individual publishers more negotiating leverage with global internet companies.

Not losing out revenue gain

  • Google’s agreement means a new revenue stream for news outfits, but whether that translates into more coverage for readers, viewers and listeners is unclear.
  • The union for Australian journalists is calling on media companies to make sure online revenue goes into newsgathering.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Controversial hashtags on twitter and their regulation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Social media as a lobbying tool

The Centre has issued notice to Twitter after the micro-blogging site restored more than 250 accounts that had been suspended earlier on the government’s ‘legal demand’.

Take this new term “Hashtags Activism”.

What is the news?

  • Twitter was asked to block accounts and controversial hashtags that spoke of an impending ‘genocide’ of farmers for allegedly promoting misinformation about the protests, adversely affecting public order.
  • Twitter reinstated the accounts and tweets on its own and later refused to go back on the decision, contending that it found no violation of its policy.

Concerns with the directive

  • This direction presents a clear breach of fundamental rights but also reveals a complex relationship between the government and large platforms on the understanding of the Constitution of India.
  • The specific legal order issued is secret.
  • This brings into focus the condition of secrecy that is threshold objection to multiple strands of our fundamental rights.
  • It conflicts against the rights of the users who are denied reasons for the censorship.
  • Secrecy also undermines the public’s right to receive information, which is a core component of the fundamental freedom to speech and expression.
  • This is an anti-democratic practice that results in an unchecked growth of irrational censorship but also leads to speculation that fractures trust.
  • The other glaring deficiency is the complete absence of any prior show-cause notice to the actual users of these accounts by the government.
  • This is contrary to the principles of natural justice.
  • This again goes back to the vagueness and the design faults in the process of how directions under Section 69A are issued.

Are platforms required to comply with legal demands?

  • Cooperation between technology services companies and law enforcement agencies is now deemed a vital part of fighting cybercrime and various other crimes that are committed using computer resources.
  • These cover hacking, digital impersonation and theft of data.
  • The potential of the misuse has led to law enforcement officials constantly seeking to curb the ill-effects of using the medium.
  • Therefore, most nations have framed laws mandating cooperation by Internet service providers or web hosting service providers and other intermediaries to cooperate with law and order authorities in certain circumstances.

What does the law in India cover?

  • In India, the Information Technology Act, 2000, as amended from time to time, governs all activities related to the use of computer resources.
  • It covers all ‘intermediaries’ who play a role in the use of computer resources and electronic records.
  • The term ‘intermediaries’ includes providers of telecom service, network service, Internet service and web hosting, besides search engines, online payment and auction sites, online marketplaces and cyber cafes.
  • It includes any person who, on behalf of another, “receives, stores or transmits” any electronic record. Social media platforms would fall under this definition.

What are the Centre’s powers, vis-à-vis intermediaries?

  • Section 69 of the Act confers on the Central and State governments the power to issue directions “to intercept, monitor or decrypt…any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource”.

The grounds on which these powers may be exercised are:

  • in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state,
  • friendly relations with foreign states,
  • public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to these, or
  • for investigating any offence

How does the government block websites and networks?

  • Section 69A, for similar reasons and grounds, enables the Centre to ask any agency of the government, or any intermediary, to block access.
  • Any such request for blocking access must be based on reasons given in writing.
  • Procedures and safeguards have been incorporated in the rules framed for the purpose.

Obligations of intermediaries under Indian law

  • Intermediaries are required to preserve and retain specified information in a manner and format prescribed by the Centre for a specified duration.
  • Contravention of this provision may attract a prison term that may go up to three years, besides a fine.
  • When a direction is given for monitoring, the intermediary and any person in charge of a computer resource should extend technical assistance in the form of giving access or securing access to the resource involved.
  • Failure to extend such assistance may entail a prison term of up to seven years, besides a fine.
  • Failure to comply with a direction to block access to the public on a government’s written request also attracts a prison term of up to seven years, besides a fine.

Is the liability of the intermediary absolute?

  • Section 79 of the Act makes it clear that “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him”.
  • This protects intermediaries such as Internet and data service providers and those hosting websites from being made liable for content that users may post or generate.
  • However, the exemption from liability does not apply if there is evidence that the intermediary abetted or induced the commission of the unlawful act involved.

Judicial intervention in this regard

  • In Shreya Singhal Case (2015), the Supreme Court read down the provision to mean that the intermediaries ought to act only upon receiving actual knowledge that a court order has been passed.
  • This was because the court felt that intermediaries such as Google or Facebook may receive millions of requests, and it may not be possible for them to judge which of these were legitimate.
  • The role of the intermediaries has been spelt out in separate rules framed for the purpose in 2011.

Legislative efforts

  • In 2018, the Centre favoured coming up with fresh updates to the existing rules on intermediaries’ responsibilities, but the draft courted controversy.
  • This was because one of the proposed changes was that intermediaries should help identify originators of offensive content.
  • This led to misgivings that this could aid privacy violations and online surveillance.
  • Also, tech companies that use end-to-end encryption argued that they could not open a backdoor for identifying originators, as it would be a breach of promise to their subscribers.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

‘Toolkit’ tweeted by Greta Thunberg

Note4Students

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.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Fake News

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Social media and spread of fake news.

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to explain its “mechanism” against fake news and bigotry on air, and to create one if it did not already exist.

Discuss how Fake News affects free speech and informed choices of citizens of the country?

What did the Centre say?

  • The media coverage predominantly has to strike a balanced and neutral perspective.
  • It explained that as a matter of journalistic policy, any section of the media may highlight different events, issues and happenings across the world as per their choice.
  • It was for the viewer to choose from the varied opinions offered by the different media outlets.

What is Fake News?

  • Fake news is untrue information presented as news. It often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue.
  • Once common in the print and digital media, the prevalence of fake news has increased with the rise of social media and messengers.
  • Political polarization, post-truth politics, confirmation bias, and social media have been implicated in the spread of fake news.

Threats posed

  • Fake news can reduce the impact of real news by competing with it.
  • In India, the spread of fake news has occurred mostly with relation to political and religious matters.
  • However, misinformation related to COVID-19 pandemic was also widely circulated.
  • Fake news spread through social media in the country has become a serious problem, with the potential of it resulting in mob violence.

Countermeasures

  • Internet shutdowns are often used by the government as a way to control social media rumours from spreading.
  • Ideas such as linking Aadhaar to social media accounts have been suggested to the Supreme Court of India by the Attorney General.
  • In some parts of India like Kannur in Kerala, the government conducted fake news classes in government schools.
  • The government is planning to conduct more public-education initiatives to make the population more aware of fake news.
  • Fact-checking has sparked the creation of fact-checking websites in India to counter fake news.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Tackling the challenge of Big Tech

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Social media and challenges

The article discusses the threat posed by the spread of misinformation on the internet and suggests the steps to tackle it.

Warning for India

  • The U.S.’s experience with the Internet should serve as a stark warning to India.
  • Most Americans now get their news from dubious Internet sources.
  • This resulted in hardening of political stances and the acute polarisation of the average American’s viewpoint.
  • For India, the danger is that like the U.S., such extreme polarisation can happen in a few short years.
  • There are anywhere between 500 million and 700 million people are now newly online, almost all from towns and rural areas.

Use of targeted algorithm

  • Social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have become the source of news for the people, but these have no journalistic norms.
  • The spread of the misinformation or news has been greatly enhanced by the highly targeted algorithms that these companies use.
  • They are likely to bombard users with information that serves to reinforce what the algorithm thinks the searcher needs to know.
  • As they familiarise themselves with the Internet, newly online Indians are bound to fall prey to algorithms that social network firms use.

Steps to control the misinformation on the internet

  • 1) Tech firms are already under fire from all quarters,  nonetheless, we need to act.
  • They are struggling to meet calls to contain the online spread of misinformation and hate speech.
  • 2) Unlike the U.S., India might need to chart its own path by regulating these firm before they proliferate.
  • In the U.S., these issues were not sufficiently legislated for and have existed for over a decade.
  • Free speech is inherent in the Constitution of many democracies, including India’s.
  • This means that new Indian legislation needs to preserve free speech while still applying pressure to make sure that Internet content is filtered for accuracy, and sometimes, plain decency.
  • 3) The third issue is corporate responsibility.
  • Facebook, for instance, has started to address this matter by publishing ‘transparency reports’ and setting up an ‘oversight board’.
  • But we cannot ignore the fact that these numbers reflect judgements that are made behind closed doors.
  • What should be regulatory attempts to influence the transparency are instead being converted into secret corporate processes.
  • We have no way of knowing the extent of biases that may be inherent inside each firm.
  • The fact that their main algorithms target advertising and hyper-personalisation of content makes them further suspect as arbiters of balanced news.
  • This means that those who use social media platforms must pull in another direction to maintain access to a range of sources and views.

Consider the question “What are the factors responsible for the spread of misinformation on social media and suggest the measures to tackle it.”

Conclusion

We need strong intervention now. Else, in addition to the media, which has largely been the responsible fourth estate, we may well witness the creation of an unmanageable fifth estate in the form of Big Tech.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Social media and dilemmas associated with it

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Internet and related terms

Mains level : Paper 3- Social media and related issues

Internet has transformed our life like no other technologies. However, it has created several problems as well. The article analyses such issues.

Examining the role of social media

  • The first reason for the examination of role is the impending US presidential election.
  • Ghosts of Cambridge Analytica, are returning to haunt us again.
  • The second reason is the COVID pandemic.
  • Social media has emerged as a force for good, with effective communication and lockdown entertainment, but also for evil, being used effectively by anti-vaxxers and the #Unmask movement to proselytize their dangerous agenda.

Understanding the problems associated with social media

  • The big problem with social networks is their business model.
  • The internet was created as a distributed set of computers communicating with one another, and sharing the load of managing the network.
  • This was Web 1.0, and it worked very well. But it had one big problem—there was no way to make money off it.
  •  The internet got monetized, Web 2.0 was born.
  • Come 2020, search and social media advertising has crossed $200 billion, rocketing past print at $65 billion, and TV at $180 billion.
  • This business model has led to a “winner-takes-all” industry structure, creating natural monopolies and centralizing the once-decentralized internet.
  • The emergence of Web 3.0, a revolution that promises to return the internet to users.

Way forward

  • One principle of the new model is to allow users explicit control of their data, an initiative aided by Europe-like data protection regulation.
  • Another is to grant creators of content—artists, musicians, photographers, —a portion of revenues, instead of platforms taking it all (or most).
  • The technologies that Web 3.0 leverages are newer ones, like blockchains, which are inherently decentralized.
  • They have technology protection against the accumulation of power and data in the hands of a few.
  • Digital currencies enabled by these technologies offer a business model of users paying for services and content with micro-transactions, as an alternative to advertiser-pays.

Conclusion

The path to success for these new kinds of democratic networks will be arduous. But a revolution has begun, and it is our revulsion of current models that could relieve us of our social dilemmas.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Turkey enacts Social Media Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Need for social media regulation

Turkey’s parliament approved a law that gives authorities greater power to regulate social media despite concerns of growing censorship.

Unregulated social media promotes misinformation, hate speech, defamation, and threats to public order, terrorist incitement, bullying, and anti-national activities.

Turkey: The forerunner of cyber policing

  • Turkey leads the world in removal requests to Twitter, with more than 6,000 demands in the first half of 2019.
  • More than 408,000 websites are blocked in Turkey, according to The Freedom of Expression Association.
  • Online encyclopedia Wikipedia was blocked for nearly three years before Turkey’s top court ruled that the ban violated the right to freedom of expression and ordered it unblocked.
  • The country also has one of the world’s highest rates of imprisoned journalists, many of whom were arrested in a crackdown following a failed coup in 2016.

Features of the Law:

1) Appointing representatives:

  • The law requires major social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to keep representative offices in Turkey to deal with complaints against content on their platforms.
  • If the social media company refuses to designate an official representative, the legislation mandates steep fines, advertising bans and bandwidth reductions.

2) Bandwidth reductions

  • Bandwidth reductions mean social media networks would be too slow to use.
  • With a court ruling, bandwidth would be reduced by 50% and then by 50% to 90%.

3) Privacy protection

  • The representative will be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection.
  • The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours.

4) Data storage

  • A most alarming feature of the new legislation is that SM companies would require social media providers to store user data in Turkey.
  • The government says the legislation was needed to combat cybercrime and protect users.
  • This would be used to remove posts that contain cyberbullying and insults against women.

Turkey seems to have given an attempt to regulate social media amidst the chaos. It lags on various fronts, making it realizable for India not to go hastily for such a regulation.

Concerns over the law

  • Hundreds of people have been investigated and some arrested over social media posts.
  • The opposition is pointing that the law would further limit freedom of expression in a country where the media is already under tight government control and dozens of journalists are in jail.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

What is ‘Milk Tea Alliance’?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ‘Milk Tea Alliance’

Mains level : Chinese assertion in the Indo-China region

The ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ is an informal term coined by social media users which are highly trending these days.

The term though in news without any institutional backing is gaining popularity. It clearly shows the public outrage against Chinese agressiveness in Taiwan and Hong-Kong.

What is the ‘Milk Tea Alliance’?

  • Thai social media users began calling for the sovereignty of Taiwan and Hong Kong, extending support to the two countries.
  • This spurred social media users from other Southeast Asian countries to join the call, in a rejection of China’s influence in the region for its own diplomatic and economic gains.
  • The ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ is an informal term coined by social media users because in the region, tea is consumed in many nations with milk, with the exception of China.
  • Memes were formed showing flags of the countries in the “Milk Tea Alliance” with China as a lone outsider.

What started this online war?

  • The online battle started with a Thai twitter post that questioned whether coronavirus had emerged in a laboratory in Wuhan.
  • There were some related tweets by pro-Taiwanese and Hong Kong people.
  • Pro-China social media users then began attacking Thailand for being a “poor” and “backward” nation and also hurled insults at the Thai king and the Thai prime minister.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Trolling in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Abuse of women on social media and its implications

 

The Amnesty International India has released a report titled “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in India”. The report analysed more than 114,000 tweets sent to 95 women politicians in the three months during and after last year’s general elections in India.

Highlights of the report

  • The research found that women are targeted with abuse online not just for their opinions – but also for various identities, such as gender, religion, caste, and marital status.
  • Indian women politicians face substantially higher abuse on Twitter than their counterparts in the U.S. and the U.K.
  • Around 13.8% of the tweets in the study were either “problematic” or “abusive”.
  • Problematic content was defined as tweets that contain hurtful or hostile content, especially if repeated to an individual on multiple occasions, but do not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.
  • While all women are targeted, Muslim women politicians faced 55% more abuse than others.
  • Women from marginalized castes, unmarried women, and those from non-ruling parties faced a disproportionate share of abuse.

A matter of concern

  • Abusive tweets had content that promote violence against or threaten people based on their race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, age, disability or other categories.
  • They include death threats and rape threats.
  • Problematic tweets contained hurtful or hostile content, often repeated, which could reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes, although they did not meet the threshold of abuse.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[op-ed snap] Keys to kingdom

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Social media - security vs regulation

Context

In the Supreme Court, a matter related to communication platforms is being debated. 

Debate

  • The matter was originally a plea for regulatory parity between internet telephony platforms and OTT communications providers like WhatsApp.
  • It has turned into a question of national security and the threat to democracy posed by social media platforms.

Social media – security issues 

  • The government’s anxieties about social media date back at least to 2016, when there was a mass exodus of workers from the Northeast from Bengaluru panicked by rumours. 
  • Recently, fake news and lynchings across the country has intensified public fears.
  • Government has told the court that the internet is “a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity,” and will publish rules for its regulation in three months.

Internet 

  • It was seen as the democratic force-multiplier of Arab Spring.
  • It has become a foe of democracy — even in the US, where the attorney general has requested Facebook not to deploy software which makes interception impossible.

Issues out of the debate – Technical Issue and Political

  • This turns the spotlight to the two issues, technical and political. 
  • Technically, it would mean rolling back or compromising end to end encryption, which would affect the data security of everyone, and not only suspects.
  • This would represent a huge step back for privacy as a right. 
  • Dismantling or bypassing encryption could work in a climate of political probity where they limit their attention to legitimate targets only. 
  • But if governments snoop obsessively and take arbitrary action, it becomes a cause of concern.
  • Social media companies have shown a reluctance to police content, and Mark Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University last week spelled it out explicitly. 
  • They have opened the door to governments seeking increased access to private communications, in the interest of public safety — and now of democracy.

Issue with governments 

  • Governments in India have shown themselves to be incompetent and malignant by incarcerating harmless citizens arbitrarily for trivial communications, wilfully misreading satire as sedition and weaponising the law.
  • This has continued even after Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, on the ground that it offered too much latitude. 

Conclusion 

Governments must demonstrate that they are able guardians of citizens’ data before they demand the security keys.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Online Censorship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Combating misinformation spread on social media


  • Indian legal demands for online content removal are the fourth highest in the world, according to a report.

India on the top

  • For the study, the researchers collated all data to find out which governments censor online content the most and which channels are targeted by each government.
  • India is followed by Russia, Turkey, France, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Pakistan, the US and the UK in the top 10.
  • India and Russia are well ahead, accounting for 19.86 and 19.75 percent of the overall number of removal requests (390,764), respectively, Bischoff said.
  • While India sent 77,620 content removal requests, Russia sent 77,162 requests during the study period.
  • However, these two countries do not always dominate the top spots across all channels.

Why censorship in India?

  • The findings come at a time when India is trying to find ways to fight misinformation spread on social media.
  • According to Twitter records, many content removal demands from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology simply cited a violation of Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

On the hit list: Social media contents

  • While Facebook received most of the content take down requests from India, Google got it from Russia, Microsoft from China, Twitter from Turkey and Wikimedia from the US.
  • In fact, a vast majority – more than 90 per cent – of India’s government content removal requests went to Facebook, the findings showed.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[pib] “Voluntary Code of Ethics” by Social Media Platforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Regulating role of social media in elections campaigning

  • Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on behalf of its members has agreed to observe the “Voluntary Code of Ethics” during all future elections including the ongoing State Assembly Elections.
  • IAMAI and social media platforms Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, Sharechat and TikTok had presented and observed this Code during the General Elections to 17thLok Sabha 2019.

Highlighted features of “Voluntary Code of Ethics”

  • Social Media platforms will voluntarily undertake information, education and communication campaigns to build awareness including electoral laws and other related instructions.
  • Social Media platforms have created a high priority dedicated grievance redressal channel for taking expeditions action on the cases  reported by the ECI.
  • Social Media Platforms and ECI have developed a notification  mechanism by this ECI can notify the relevant platforms of potential  violations of Section 126 of the R.P. Act, 1951 and other electoral laws.
  • Platforms will ensure that all political advertisements on their platforms are pre-certified from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees as per the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court.
  • Participating platforms are committed to facilitate transparency in   paid political advertisements, including utilising their pre-existing labels/disclosure technology for such advertisements.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[op-ed snap] Peekaboo, guess who

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Accountability for online abuse

Context

The Supreme Court, responding to a plea by Facebook, has expressed serious concern about the electronic Wild West that internet technology has opened up. It  directed the government to file an affidavit within three weeks outlining a strategy to get social media platforms to share information with law enforcement without compromising the privacy of citizens.

What the court said

  • It asked why citizens must suffer being trolled and maligned with the impunity conferred by anonymity, and without hope of easy legal remedy.

What are the problems in handling the issue

  • The society has become eager to both give and take offence.

  • There are countervailing claims of different rights.

  • None of the stakeholders involved have practised fully ethical practices.

  • The government itself permits the rampant misuse and abuse of the law against citizens who speak out online.

  • Even after the offensive Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was struck down as unconstitutional in 2015, the harassment of citizens involved in opinionating, advocacy or discussion has continued, without the government requiring application of mind from the police.

  • Some governments have stooped to using the instrument directly against their own people.

  • Supreme Court ruling in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India said that “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions.” In the judges’ view, Section 66A suffered from the deficit of “vagueness”, encouraging arbitrariness.

  • The guidelines which the government is required to produce may be as arbitrary in practice, because perceptions of right and wrong are socially determined, rather than legally.

  • The social media platforms which would follow these guidelines have not consistently been ideal guardians of the balance between privacy and accountability.

  • Facebook is still firefighting the Cambridge Analytica scandal and allegations of letting its platform be used to influence the US elections and Brexit. And troll-teeming Twitter is permanently beleaguered by allegations of unresponsiveness to complaints of abuse.

Way ahead

  • Clarity concerning guidelines would remove the arbitrariness with which action has been sought and draconian curbs applied.

  • Caution is required since the imperative of public order and safety is often used to justify innovations that are revealed to be intrusive or coercive.

Conclusion

The court, has, over the years has expanded the contours of free speech. It may finally rely on existing laws and processes. If applied prudently and morally, they should suffice the purpose.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[oped of the day] Shaking the foundation of fake news

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : The issue of Fake News and handling it

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.

Context

Combating fake news is a growing preoccupation with the technology platforms, the political class, the news media. 

Fake News

  • Fake news is not a new phenomenon linked to the rise of social media.
  • Governments and political actors have always invested in disinformation campaigns to build narratives of their choice. 
  • Institutional news media is no longer seen as an arbitrator of the ‘real news’. It lost credibility due to complicit and motivated reporting. 
  • The advent of social media has decentralised the creation and propagation of fake news. 
  • This has led to the difficulty in controlling/eliminating fake news.

Response to fake news

  • The current response to fake news primarily revolves around three prongs
    • Rebuttal
    • Removal of the fake news item
    • Educating the public. 
  • They are not sufficient in themselves to address the larger ‘political’ problem posed by fake news.

Rebuttal and removal

  • A rebuttal is a form of fact-checking wherein the fake news is debunked by pointing out errors like mismatch, malicious editing and misattribution. 
  • If the fake news item appears on institutional handles, attempts are made to have it removed after rebuttal. 
  • There is pressure on companies like Facebook and YouTube to proactively remove fake news from their platforms and rework their algorithms to ensure that such content does not gain prominence. 
  • The newly introduced limits on forwarding messages on WhatsApp are due to this discourse. 

Educating

  • This encourages educating the end-users to be more discerning consumers of news.
  • It informs them of verification tools so that they can ascertain the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
  • Another emerging strand is tracking the ‘source’ of fake news to address the issue at its root. 

Challenges in the approaches

  • Along with de-anonymising all social media accounts it will rise serious issues concerning the invasion of privacy and free speech.
  • It may be used by governments to quell dissent.
  • Attempting to rebut fake news may be possible to rebut news on one fake instance. But the ‘fake news factory’ will keep churning out similar stories to advance its chosen narrative.
  • It is impossible to completely ‘remove’ fake news even after rebuttal, given the decentralised nature of dissemination. 
  • Propagation and virality of a news item are contingent not on its accuracy but on how well it conforms to the dominant narrative. 
  • The act of ‘rebuttal’, instead of supplanting the original fake news item, could vie for space with the latter. 
  • The average consumer relies on overall narratives to evaluate a piece of information. The increasing complexity of issues and deluge of information has made it impossible for any individual to develop a well-researched stand on all the topics. 
  • When an individual piece of information conforms to someone’s held beliefs, it is readily accepted and shared.
  • Studies have confirmed that people don’t care about finding the ‘truth’ behind a news item and instead look for evidence to support their preferred narrative – confirmation bias. 
  • Therefore, debunking discrete items of fake news without addressing this battle of narratives will have only marginal value. 

Way ahead

  • If we are concerned about the impact of fake news, we must address the underlying narratives, instead of merely trying to rebut individual items. 
  • By addressing the weaknesses that allow the fake news narrative to take root. Eg., the rise of right-wing due to the loss of credibility of the liberal camp.
  • Mobilize public opinion around an alternate narrative that makes the fake news item irrelevant. 
  • Most people cannot hold multiple stories in their head and thus, instead of poking holes in an opponent’s story, it may be more effective to replace it with a different narrative built on facts.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[op-ed snap] Content management: On Aadhaar-social media linkage

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Overreaching effects of Aadhaar

Context

No merit in idea

  • The submissions in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government in support of linking social media profiles of registered users with their Aadhaar numbers are not well-founded in the law as it now stands.
  • It is noteworthy that a Bench of the Madras High Court, which is hearing two writ petitions on this matter, did not see merit in the idea.

Aadhaar for social media

  • The court pointed out that Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporate and individuals to use the number to establish someone’s identity.
  • The petitioners had approached the Court with such a prayer on the ground that many people got away with inflammatory posts on social media because of the lack of traceability.
  • The Bench has since then expanded the writ petitions’ scope to examine the adequacy of the legal framework on cybercrimes and the responsibilities of intermediaries who provide telecommunication and online services.

Tracing offensive messages

  • The State government is batting for better assistance from intermediaries and social media companies to trace offending messages.
  • While the Supreme Court will decide the question of transferring these cases to itself, the Madras High Court will continue its hearing.

The policy confusion

  • The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology notified new draft rules for intermediaries last year and called for public comments.
  • One of the changes proposed is that intermediaries should help identify originators of offensive content.
  • This has created some understandable misgivings at a time when there is widespread suspicion about online surveillance.
  • Technology companies that use end-to-end encryption have pleaded inability to open a back door for identifying originators.
  • The issue concerns the global policy of these companies as well as the wider public interest of millions of registered users.

Conclusion

  • After the K.S. Puttaswamy decision (2017) in the ‘privacy’ case, any state intervention in the regulation of online content has to pass the test of proportionality laid down by the court.
  • It will be desirable if courts do not impart needless urgency to the process of introducing a balanced regulatory regime to curb content that promotes undesirable activities such as child pornography, sectarian conflict and mob violence, without affecting individual privacy.
  • The balance must be right between protecting privacy and allowing the state leeway to curb crime.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[op-ed snap] Platforms of our own

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : nothing much

Mains level : India's interest needs to be protected from unwanted social media influence.

CONTEXT

Social media platforms allow political parties to reach millions of prospective voters and are therefore an integral part of elections.

Misuse of Social Media

  • However, some authoritarian regimes across the world have used social media to manufacture positive public opinion.
  • Worse, some established democracies have had to deal with propaganda, fake news and foreign interference in domestic elections.
  • These developments point to the capacity of social media platforms to seriously undermine democratic practices worldwide.

Steps after the Cambridge Analytica scandal

  • Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the company illegally harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent and used that to influence their voting preferences, Facebook has been in the forefront in creating various checks and balances in cyberspace to create an environment for free and fair elections.
  • It has created specialised global centres with the sole aim of promoting election integrity.

Use of Artificial Intelligence –

  • As a platform that sees billions of posts each day, Facebook has identified Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIML)-powered pattern recognition tools to be the most effective line of defence against “unnatural interference”.
  • Whenever accounts are found that are similar to ones flagged in the past, and that are inaccurate, abusive, or violating the platforms’ terms of service, they are systematically removed.
  • At present, AIML tools assist the platform block or remove over a million accounts a day.

Case study of India

According to a recent survey, one in two Indian voters has received some kind of fake news in the month leading to the elections. AIML tools also work to minimise the spread of such disinformation.

Inefficiencies in model with regard to India
  • Some of the actions taken by these platforms, however, have not been that well received, especially by those who say that these platforms should not be deciding what is proper and improper in the Indian online space.
  • For instance, Twitter’s top officials, including global CEO Jack Dorsey, were summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology for alleged bias against right-wing voices on the platform.
  • With almost all the popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, being foreign-owned, and with India having neither insights into their internal algorithms and functioning nor any viable homegrown equivalents, its population will always be susceptible to interference beyond its control.

Way Forward

India’s ability to create its own mass collaborative technology and independent institutions with technical expertise that can monitor and counter actions of the government, is paramount in ensuring that social media evolves into an enabler of transparency and democracy, rather than a cause of democratic recession.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

India signs ‘Christchurch Call to Action’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Christchurch Call to Action

Mains level : Regulating role of social media against organized terrorism


  • To combat online extremism, India has decided to sign an international call initiated by the governments of France and New Zealand along with top social media companies after the Christchurch attacks.

Christchurch Call to Action

  • The dissemination of such content online has adverse impacts on the human rights of the victims, on our collective security and on people all over the world was declared by the 17 signatory countries.
  • The Call outlines “collective”, “voluntary” commitments from Governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online.
  • The document highlights, “All action on this issue must be consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.
  • While the document stresses on the need to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of free speech of citizens of any country, the US has decided not to sign the document amid free speech concerns.
  • The meeting held in Paris was attended by representatives of online giants like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

The document states that the governments/signatories should commit to:

  • Counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism by strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of societies to enable them to resist terrorist and violent extremist ideologies, including through education, building media literacy to help counter distorted terrorist and violent extremist narratives, and the fight against inequality.
  • Ensure effective enforcement of applicable laws that prohibit the production or dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, including freedom of expression.
  • Encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online, to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content.
  • Support frameworks, such as industry standards, to ensure that reporting on terrorist attacks does not amplify terrorist and violent extremist content, without prejudice to responsible coverage of terrorism and violent extremism.
  • Consider appropriate action to prevent the use of online services to disseminate terrorist and violent extremist content, including through collaborative actions, such as:

The documents draw in the online service providers to commit to:

  • Take transparent, specific measures seeking to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content and to prevent its dissemination on social media and similar content-sharing services.
  • Provide greater transparency in the setting of community standards or terms of service, including by:
  • Outlining and publishing the consequences of sharing terrorist and violent extremist content;
  • Describing policies and putting in place procedures for detecting and removing terrorist and violent extremist content.

With inputs from:

India Today

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Social media platforms present voluntary ‘code of ethics’

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Role of social media in manipulating election campaigning


News

  • Social media platforms and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have presented a ‘Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019’ to the Election Commission.

About the Code

  • This code will become effective and will enter into force on March 20, 2019 and would remain operational during the election.
  • The code’s purpose is to identify measures that the platforms can take to increase confidence in the electoral process.
  • It is also to safeguard against misuse that vitiates the “free and fair character” of the Lok Sabha polls.
  • According to the code, the platforms will endeavour to where appropriate and keeping in mind the principle of freedom of expression,” deploy appropriate policies and processes to facilitate access to information on electoral matters.
  • The platforms will also ensure that political advertisements by parties or their candidates are pre-certified.
  • Campaigns will be organised to create awareness, including on electoral laws and other instructions from the EC.

Notification mechanism

  • The platforms and the Commission have developed a notification mechanism by which the electoral body can notify them of potential violations under Section 126 of the RP Act, and on other matters.
  • These valid legal orders will be acknowledged and/or processed within three hours for violations reported under Section 126 as per the Sinha Committee recommendations (for last 48hrs).
  • All other valid legal requests will be acted upon expeditiously by the participants, based on the nature of reported violation.
  • A high-priority dedicated reporting mechanism is being created for the EC and dedicated persons appointed for the purpose.

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[op-ed snap] Foreign hand returns

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Role of Social Media in influencing elections


NEWS

CONTEXT

It is widely accepted that the current general elections would be India’s first polls to be shaped by the social media. As rival parties weaponise new digital tools in a rather charged political moment, the question of preserving the integrity of India’s elections has come right to the top.

Examples of Foreign Interference

  • Foreign manipulation of elections is a major problem around the world.
  • In the last few years there have been charges of external intervention in elections in countries as different as the US, Cambodia, Madagascar and Taiwan.
  • For example, Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies. About 190 million people are set to elect the president, national parliament, provincial assemblies and local councils — all at one go — on April 17.
  • Last week, Arief Budiman, the chairman of Indonesia’s general election commission, told the press that hackers from Russia and China were trying to attack the voter data base and that these attacks were taking place not just every day, “but by the hour”.
  • “Voter behaviour can be changed by de-legitimising the election commission,” Budiman pointed out.

Indian Scenario

  • There was a time when the Indian political classes routinely accused the “foreign hand” for many unexpected developments, electoral or otherwise.
  • Most of the time, the “foreign hand” was a code for the US and its Central Intelligence Agency.
  • As the Congress, under Indira Gandhi, drifted close to the Soviet Union after 1969, the non-left opposition parties would often charge the KGB of meddling in the elections in favour of the Congress.
  • interfering in the internal politics of other societies — through overt and covert means — is as old as statecraft.
  • Before the age of mass politics, it was about influencing royal succession, ensuring friendly sovereigns in one’s neighbourhood, suborning key members of a foreign court, including ministers and military leaders.
  • According to one study, America and Russia intervened in at least one in nine elections around the world between 1946 and 2000.
  • As the global war for political influence raged during the Cold War, the CIA was accused of helping the Congress Party to push back against the Communists in Kerala and West Bengal. Russia and China, in turn, have been charged with supporting the Indian communists.
  • The end of the Cold War and the relative harmony among major powers meant there was less pressure on the great powers to intervene in India.

Cyber field as an arena for foreign interference

  • The contestation between great powers has returned, slowly but certainly.
  • As the cyber domain emerged as a new theatre for the political rivalry, charges have flown thick and fast about foreign intervention in the domestic politics of other countries.
  • Donald Trump’s surprising victory in the 2016 presidential elections has been followed by allegations of Russian intervention to manipulate the social media during the campaign.
  • There is no  question that platforms like Facebook were deliberately used to spread disinformation during the elections.
  • The unprecedented speed of online communication, the relative ease of spreading misinformation, the growing sophistication of fake news, the extraterritoriality of the web, the increasing impact of the digital influence operations by individuals, professional cyber consultants, criminal mafias, and above all governments, has helped constitute a new global cyber landscape that few could have imagined a decade ago.

Ways to address the cyber menace

  • The Indian political class has not devoted enough attention to the issues involved. The problem needs to be addressed at least at three levels.
  • One is for parties and political leaders to pay greater attention to cyber security of their campaigns and social media accounts.
  • Hacking and leaking of personal and sensitive information could have an explosive effect on the 2019 elections.
  • Two, the BJP and the Congress need a small, quiet and credible mechanism for mutual communication to contain the damage from hostile attempts to undermine Indian elections. The two parties must find the will to protect the legitimacy of the 2019 elections.
  • Finally, the national security establishment must extend full support to the Election Commission in fending off many likely threats to the integrity of the elections and help raise the awareness of the political class on the new dangers of the digital age.

 

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

[pib] Report on Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, Submitted

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 126 of Representation of the People Act, 1951

Mains level: Role of Social Media in influencing elections


News

  • A Committee constituted to review and suggest modifications and changes in the provisions of the Section 126 and other sections of the RP Act 1951, provisions of Model Code of Conduct and any other ECI instruction has submitted its report.
  • The recommendations made by the Committee, when implemented will help in minimizing the possible interference of activities which aim at indirectly influencing voters during the valuable silence period of 48 hours provided to them.

Background

  1. The task of maintaining campaign silence during last 48 hours before the conclusion of polling is becoming increasingly onerous in the light of the increasing influence of digital media.
  2. So, apart from the regulation by law and ECI instructions, the resolve, proactive support and sustained effort by all stake holders is necessary to contain the evil impact.

Section 126 of RP Act, 1951

  1. Section 126 of the RP Act prohibits displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency.
  2. “Election matter” has been defined in that Section as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.
  3. Violation of the provisions of Section 126 is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with fine or both.
  4. It prohibits conduct of Exit poll and dissemination of their results during the period mentioned therein, in the hour fixed for commencement of polls in the first phase and half hour after the time fixed for close of poll for the last phase in all the States.

Scope of Reform

  1. Section 126 and other related Sections of the RP Act, 1951
  2. Prohibitory period of 48 hours before the completion of the poll
  3. Impact of new media platforms and social media during the prohibitory period of 48 hours before the close of poll campaign.
  4. Provisions of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) to the related issue

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

The term social media is being used quite often by everyone and has become a popular topic of conversation, debates and controversies.

“The social networking phenomenon continues to gain steam worldwide, and India represents one of the fastest growing markets at the moment”.

This reflects the emergence of social media in India in upcoming time…so here is presenting a brief article on social media: prospects and challenges.


  • Introduction
  • What is social media?
  • Types of social media
  • Implications and uses
  • Challenges before social media
  • Prospects of social media in India
  • Concerns about privacy
  • Way ahead

Introduction:

  • Social Media is the latest form of media available to the audience of varied groups. It is a form of electronic communication through which users share information, ideas, personal messages, videos and pictures and other content through it instantly.
  • The major reason behind its popularity is that the users are given a free service to create a virtual social world where they exchange photographs, play games, become friendly, fall in love, split, fight, argue and quarrel at many times without having met physically.
  • But, on the other side it is an encroachment to someone’s privacy which can lead to different type of illegal activities by using the information such as name, location, and email addresses.
  • Social media provides us a platform to express ourselves without any restrictions which is becoming a major challenge as it may infringe the fundamental rights of privacy of a human being.

Various forms of social media

  • Social Networks– Services that allow you to connect with other people of similar interests and background.  Usually they consist of a profile, various ways to interact with other users, ability to set up groups, etc. The most popular are Facebook and Linkedin
  • Bookmarking Sites – Services that allow you to save, organize and manage links to various websites and resources around the internet.  Most allow you to “tag” your links to make them easy to search and share.  The most popular are Delicious and StumbleUpon.
  • Social News– Services that allow people to post various news items or links to outside articles and then allows it’s users to “vote” on the items.  The voting is the core social aspect as the items that get the most votes are displayed the most prominently.  The community decides which news items get seen by more people.  The most popular are Digg and Reddit.
  • Media Sharing– Services that allow you to upload and share various media such as pictures and video.  Most services have additional social features such as profiles, commenting, etc.  The most popular are YouTube and Flickr.
  • Microblogging– Services that focus on short updates that are pushed out to anyone subscribed to receive the updates.  The most popular is Twitter.
  • Blog Comments and Forums – Online forums allow members to hold conversations by posting messages.  Blog comments are similar except they are attached to blogs and usually the discussion centers around the topic of the blog post.  There are many popular blogs and forums like RSS Feeds.

Implications and uses of social media:

  • Social media serve as a superior medium to stay connected with friends and family, to meet new people, and make new friends.
  • It seems to be the most effective form of communication as feedback is instant.
  • It is like a boon to introverts as they find a safer zone to initiate conversations.
  • It is an upcoming media to integrate people and follow the principle of many voices one world.

Effect on Function & Performance of government 

  • Accountability and transparency in Government
  • Various deals, decision by representative are Instantly getting shared on Social media
  • It is helping people decide that what things are actually done by Government
  • It is also causing swift actions by government
  • Making representative more closer through Digital interface
  • Democratising effect

Effect on Governance and Institutions

  • It is providing voice to the people
  • Office delays, and Bureaucratic red tapism, absenteeism has been affected.
  • Recent protest on free speech has also caused judicial activism thus prudent judiciary in even of infringement of rights
  • It also helps political leader during election campaign for propagating manifesto
  • Cost of dissemination of information, expenditure of government has been reduced Vis a Vis to other forms of Information.

Challenges before Social Media:

  • The misuse of one’s personal information, hacking of accounts, morphing of personal photographs, addiction of social networking sites, spam and viruses are most high-flying problems faced due to social media.
  • Some other prospective challenges are illiteracy, reach and accessibility of internet, lack of censorship on social media, need of regulatory body to govern the social media.
  • The most worrying aspect to the social media is the fact that it cannot be controlled and therefore it goes without saying that its consequences can also be dangerous and uncontrollable for all those who use it recklessly and in an irresponsible manner.
  • Frequent networking on sites like Facebook could also generate negative feelings like inadequacy, envy, jealousy or even aggressive behavior.

Concerns about privacy:

  • Most networking sites do not really protect an individual’s privacy. A simple example is that of photos being posted on such sites without taking permission from all the people concerned.
  • There is no authenticity of the data posted nor can everything be taken on its face value.

Prospects of social media in India:

  • There has been a remarkable increase in the internet connectivity in India. There has been successful penetration of personal computers even in the small cities and towns in the country. We all witness the intense mobile penetration in all nooks in India.
  • Seeing the high number of youth in the country who are tech friendly, it can be said that there is a bright prospect of social media in India.

Way ahead:

  • Social media in India has to meet other challenges apart from illiteracy, reach and accessibility that are revenue generation.
  • There has been a rapid increase in social networking sites, microblogging, media sharing and bookmarking sites. India is lucrative market and social media is certainly gaining opportunities to deepen its roots resulting into a strong foothold in India.
  • There is need to regularize the social media. Some agency must be deputed to monitor the anti-social activities taking place on virtual world of social media. Laws relating to cyber crime should be made more stringent. There should be a separate policing department for cyber crimes.
  • There is a need of extensive research study for finding ways to regularize crime against social media.

Social Media, with all its benefits and the potential for more, is definitely a boon, however misuse or irresponsible usage can have negative effects on individuals and society, especially the young impressionable minds. We need to guard against the negative impact of the social media, which ought to be used in the correct manner for creative or productive purposes so that it is progressive to mankind and society at large, rather than regressive.


References:

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!

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