Impact of social media censorship on politics

Published : Nov 15, 2019 09:19 am | By: priya ghosh

Impact of social media censorship on politics

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Social media has become an intrinsic part of an individual's life and it has not just penetrated the social life but also the political sphere to such an extent that sometimes its been misused to create disharmony. So the government has proposed censorship to be imposed on social media.


 Social media has become an intrinsic part of our lives and this trend is working globally. From little children to aged people all given access to the internet through several devices including their smartphones which has made life much easier. However, some people have left no effort in misusing social media   

 Way before the controversial Cambridge Analytica scandal it was obvious as to the significant role social media was playing in public life. Several politicians use social media platforms like Twitter to reach out directly to people and also get valid responses from them through the platform. Similarly, they spend a lot of money on targeted advertising on Facebook. A section of new generation politicians and commentators are meanwhile attracting the audience via their YouTube channels. These platforms are way more popular than mainstream media.

Social media is a medium for free speech and for people to express their opinions without fear. However, sometimes the opinions tend to hurt the sentiments of people who go overboard. Last year the Government of India introduced a draft policy that had rules that would force an array of internet companies to remove certain contents from their platforms. The main motive of the regulations was to check the misuse of social media which had earlier sparked unrest due to the spread of fake news.  However, privacy advocates and internet companies feel that such a policy will be nothing but a threat to free speech. but internet companies and privacy advocates say the new measures are a threat to free speech. There has been a trend on the internet where we have seen that hate speeches are being posted. It is a good thing to be critical about various viewpoints but most of the times the line is crossed and it seems as if people are taking out their grudge on individuals or political parties or communities

 But again the hateful languages are decided by whom? There are times when some communities or groups find some languages hurtful while there are groups who do not find the same language hateful. It becomes very difficult to police the vast range of content which surfaces on social media daily. The government is concerned about contents that promote violence, terrorism child pornography and also contents that are disrespectful to the nation.  Various leading online streaming players like Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, Arre, SonyLIV, and ALTBalaji to avoid conflict with the government signed a code of best practices which is essentially a voluntary censorship code to regulate video streaming content.

 

However, the decision of censorship has created a sense of fear amongst the people and they think that their right to free speech is being curbed. It has been observed that on one hand, the development of technology has resulted in massive economic growth but on the other hand, has exposed the users to various forms of threats that come from hate speeches and fake news to hacks. The government’s growing concern over the security of the country and the protection of the interests of its people is justifiable. However social media is extensively used by politicians during election campaigns and recently the penetration of social media in politics is huge. Political parties use social media to reach out to their voters to interact with them and spread messages about their ideologies. Several parties have social media cells which help them in communicating with a large number of people.  So the regulation policies on social media will curb the freedom of the parties as well.

 It will be imperative for the government to carefully formulate the laws keeping in mind the interests of the nation as a whole without totally curbing the freedom of speech. Social media for the young generation is a different space altogether and it does not take much time for the content in the sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to spread ranging from news to memes. So the government should impose laws to check certain content not all. Only the content which might cause harm to the interest of the nation. As per government sources, the rules which are in the draft phase as of now will be consulted with the internet companies and then implemented. The government has assured that while setting up the rules, fairness will be maintained and only then will the laws be finalized.


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