The Social Media Crisis and Questions of Regulation

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We’re all aware of the various uses of the internet and tools like social media and also know the vide variety of people we encounter on these platforms. Depending on a person’s motives, the internet may become a good or a bad place. Various stories about terrorist groups using social media to recruit people have been surfacing over the last two years. Given the reach of social media, it is easy to use the same for propaganda and reach people even in the remotes areas, brainwashing and influencing their minds. Since as young as 13 year old kids are now on social media, the kind of people they communicate with and the sort of content they consume must be regulated and monitored.

To contain the spread and the impact of misinformation or instigative messages via social media, the Government of India is working on a Social Media Policy that will regulate and restrict the same. This policy is being developed to prevent the misuse of social media for spreading anti-national elements or just anything that disrupts the communal harmony of the nation or threatens the national security. In 2014, over 272 instances of using social media to spread malicious information were recorded. Over the past three years, these numbers have only gone up and will continue to rise without any effective regulation and monitoring. The Central Security Agency along with the Home Ministry thus, aims at launching this policy to curb anti-national content and profiles from surfacing online.
While this may seem like a fair enough idea, there are several grey areas that the government must go over before they implement the same. The term ‘Anti-National’ has in the recent past been the subject of a number of conflicts and this is because what qualifies as ‘Anti-National’ is debatable. People have expressed concern over this being another way to control criticism of the ruling government, as a possible revamped replacement of the arbitrary 66 A. Given the volatile nature of affairs in Kashmir, regulating or monitoring content that may generate unrest in the area will see equal amount of support and opposition from various people, as will the implementation of this policy.

While the debate around regulation of content on social media is a never ending one, each one of us who use social media top disseminate content and information must step up and make sure we act as responsibly on the cyber world as we would in reality. The reach of messages on social media imply a vast reach which means any message you put out has the potential of reaching and possibly influencing thousands of people making it even more important to be socially responsible while communicating through social media.

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