Social media and #tweepalWar

In the continuation of Social network saga, today, I want to discuss crucial issues in this part with you which are very rarely addressed. Provocative hatred are spreading on social media which is the dangerous trend going on. A hate and abusive campaign against each another, from a political party to a leader and journalist to a common user are on the rise. There are many examples of how social media is slipping towards provocation are proliferating day by day. Some spread the false information to instigate the hatred against each other. Many times, simple issues are made so complicated and then outraged while discussing. When arguments are harsher than the basic conversation, there start the quarrel. We have forgotten to debate with do reasoning. Today, we are divided on social network; we talk about unity, united nation, and brotherhood but there are many other issues which have alienated us in groups.

Incitement to hatred can occur when an individual or group threatens to harass a person or a group of people because of their orientation or ideology. That could be in words, pictures, videos, and even music. It also includes information posted on websites. Laws are written to allow freedom of speech/expression and to define illegal content, there is no proper mechanism. Many times, people don’t register such complaints. For example, if you are against a leader or a political party, you raise the issues concerning to her or his performance and governance, scam, scandals or brutality that they committed to this nation and its people. We are bypassing the freedom given to us and violating the rules by calling our leaders, waitress, mass murderer, dehati aurat etc. The attacks are very much personal. However, even today such fabrication does not seem to be illegal in our country. To find a solution for this issue, government launched an initiative whereby people at large protested against this. Only about 164.81 million Indians have access to the internet, and only 143.20 million over mobile phones according to official figures released by the Telecom and Regulatory Authority of India in March 2013. With this scenario, the reach in terms of positive and negative impact is still quite limited in India.

The prime minister, however, chose to focus on social media’s role on fanning hatred. His views on hatred on social media were echoed by many others like Akhilesh Yadav, Prithviraj Chavan, Tarun Gogoi, Hemant Soren, Bhupender Singh Hooda and Mukul Sangma. The majority of chief ministers favour social media regulation. Ideas were thrown forward included taking action within the current legal framework, setting up ‘social media laboratories’ to monitor posts under intelligence departments and even mobilizing NGOs and prominent citizens to counter social media anecdotes. Irony is that, ministers who are endorsing restrictions on social network could not control their own party workers going haywire on this platform. Bhupender Singh Hooda’s team is famous for ranting against opposition by losing their control and same is with the other political parties too.

If these ministers or government brings censorship on social network, how will they promote their agenda? How will they survive without it? In our country, hardly anyone knows Shashi Tharoor (just an example). Go and ask common people, still they don’t know who he is. But due to social network, many such ministers got overnight publicity amongst youngsters those using social networking sites. However, the real question is what kind of regulation India choosing? In China, a new law can charge people with defamation if a false rumour started by them gets reposted over 500 times. In India, current laws allow citizens to go to court over information that has even caused them “annoyance” under Section 66A of the law. To ensure that it is abusive or not, the government has mandated that a senior police officer first probe it before allowing charges, to avoid nuisance. The Constitution of India allows us ‘Freedom of Expression, although with some restrictions. The potential for abuse is too great. Unfortunately, as it seems today – social media has become a war field. It is virtual battle field, where people fight and they forget that the real world also exists. Anyways, there are lots to talk about social networking sites. There are people maligning people, false propaganda initiated, abusive language and threat. Fake profiles are common here and non-political tweetariti’s suffer from censorship. One person holds multiple accounts, without disclosing information. They remain anonymous and create ruckus on sites. Randomly, they assaults and harass people. In the world of viral promotions and millions of fake profiles, how can we ever truly measure the value of social media sites? There are two kinds of fake followers. They are active and take part in interactions. Another is having twitter followers bot. They can add to the followers count but of no use. They get added and after sometime get dissolved, pretty much dummy followers.

Interestingly, among influential US political tweeters, President Barack Obama is the undisputed king of the fake followers. More than 19.5 million of his 36.9 million Twitter followers are accounts that don’t correspond to real people. His 36.9 million Twitter followers, an astonishing 53 per cent – or 19.5 million – are fake accounts, according to a search engine at the Internet research vendor StatusPeople.com. Just 20 per cent of Obama’s Twitter buddies are real people who are active users.

Overall, the five most influential accounts linked to the Obama administration – the first lady has two – account for 23.4 million fake followers. From Narendra Modi to Amitabh Bachchan or other prominent leaders have these fake followers in their list. This will be very interesting subject to discuss further.

But in my next edit, do not forget to read, how tweepals have gathered money in the name of charity and gave birth to virtual financial scams.

Vaidehi Taman
(Group Editor NBC)
editornbc@gmail.com
Nov. 2013