There was a time when people didn’t have any photographic tool like a camera. That was the period of history when the painters became famous and their paintings were the only proof of each and every historical happening. That was also the period when communication was not that easy. It was a tough period in order to keep a tab on the day to day happenings all over the world. But at last, it was in the late 20th century, social media came into existence.
Sixdegrees.com is considered as the first ever social media website. After that, Yahoo Messanger in 1999, Skype in 2003, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011 came into the market. With the passing years, all these social media sites came up with many interesting features, from limiting it to chatting, to photo sharing and many more features.
Needless to say, social media is a revolutionary work done, which is facilitating trillions of people all over the world. Social media has its own set of benefits, which is known to everyone. It has made our life easier. Our thoughts and ideas are easily spread through social media. The contribution of the internet and social media has eased almost everything.
Even sitting in our home, we are able to communicate with our relatives through Skype. Through social media only, we are able to discover various places, their people, their culture, their lifestyle and many such things. We are now able to sign online petitions for many social and political causes. Social media, in short, is providing each and every individual a direct chance to speak his or her own views in every matter. There are many aspiring singers, dancers and stand up comedians, who have gained success through the use of social media only.
There are some countries, with social media restrictions. Like, in Pakistan, YouTube is banned. In China, they have restriction over everything. They have their own news agencies and social media platforms. They have banned the use of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Literally, they are cut short of the world.
Being a social media user, we all have come across the word ‘trending’. The trending matters spread in such a way that, every person comes across that at some point of time. Like the video of Dhinchak Pooja, which was a completely useless song, was viewed by millions! These trends don’t affect much or can be said, doesn’t affect at all. Just imagine, if there is a leak of some government document or someone tries to spread hatred in the name of religion or community, what will be the situation? Certainly, we will get motivated and influenced very easily and spread it all over. And this will be just because of the position social media has created in our daily life.
It will not take second to spread a hate speech of a leader or an organization. People are so blind that they don’t even think of verifying the matter. Recently, there was an incident in Baduria, Paraganas dist. West Bengal. BJP and the right Hindutva forces were trying to spread communal hatred (as alleged by Trinamool Congress), by making public statements and social media posts. Video clip of the riot surfaced causing anger in the public. But the video that surfaced was actually of Comilla in Bangladesh and was wrongly claimed to be of Baduria, only to spread panic.
This was not it. A person posted a picture from some Bhojpuri film, where a woman is assaulted by lascivious men. The person captioned the post, “Baduria! The honor of Hindu woman is under attack. Those Hindu friends who are still with Trinamool Congress, are you Hindu?” The person was later arrested, but the damage was done. Not only the general public but also two BJP leaders shared a post in this connection. One of them posted a picture of 2002 Gujarat Riots and captioned Baduria Riots!
This incident shows how a situation, that shouldn’t have even aroused, caused a riot at Baduria. This is not the only incident, there are several such incidents in India and across the globe. People are so easily manipulated that they are not even thinking twice before spreading such wrong information, creating chaos and disturbance all over the world. The most disappointing thing is that the wrong news is spread not only by people but also by news agencies and political leaders.
Not every person has access to social media. If a person comes across such news, he or she wouldn’t be able to verify it in any way and many people believe it blindly. In a way, social media has blinded and bound the public from having deep insight about anything.
It’s not only about the case of spreading riots. Global terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda use social media for recruitment. One more threat, hacking, it has become so easy that it can create a situation of war. Suppose, for example, the website of Indian Government gets hacked and the information is circulated that India is going to attack China in next 24 hours, then there is a serious possibility that the Chinese Army is found gathering next to McMohan Line. Everyone is well aware of the kind of problem India will face if this type of incident happens.
Nowadays, the social media is becoming dangerously unsafe day by day. If a person sitting at Islamabad can mobilize a crowd in Lucknow, then one can imagine what other things are possible, how much destruction it can do with some fake image or video across the globe!
Last year, the German Parliament passed a law that punishes with a fine of 50 Million Euros on social media sites, like, Facebook and YouTube, if they fail to remove hateful posts within a time limit. The rule is applicable for all those sites with more than 2 million users in a country. Strong laws, like this, only can safeguard our globe from the people who are spreading hatred. What we need to do is coming up with new ideas, in order to hinder the spreading of anything abusive or promoting religious or communal conflicts.
Social media is the best gift for our generation. It’s our responsibility to use it for information and fun only. There is no fun in spreading false rumors, and even if we come across such kinds of stuff, it’s our duty to report it.
Yes! We are provided with ‘Right of Freedom of Speech’, that doesn’t provide a license to spread hatred of any manner. Therefore, it’s very important to understand our rights and act with accord to it.