Guest's ViewOpinion

Instead of Regulating content, let platforms build quick action mechanism

My Open Letter to Shri Ravishankar Prasad and Shri Prakash Javadekar

advertisement

SAVE OUR CONTENT

It’s not just to the ministers or the PM, I will be addressing it to the mass audiences as they would be the one reading it. Well, I am not a person who resorts to long format writings, I believe in keeping it short.

I spend half my day on the internet, for work & for entertainment, trust me when I say I consume a hell lot of entertainment content. A few days back I came across a few articles which was disheartening to the core. MIB to regulate OTT platforms in India and they are holding consultation process in various cities.

Before the government takes any decision randomly, I have a few questions from the concerned authorities.

  • Do you know the difference between User Generated Content Platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, TikTok and Curated Content Platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, AltBalaji, Zee5, Hotstar etc? – I think both of you don’t know the answer.
  • Have you consulted the Ministry of Home Affairs or any of the cyber cells of the State Governments as to which of these two platforms are reasons for lynching, fake news, disinformation, piracy and/or law and order situations? – I think both of you don’t have enough time to indulge in fact checking?
  • I think this is the reason you are targeting Curated Content Platforms but want to ask you – Can you introduce a pre filter on user generated platforms and rely on Artificial Intelligence of such platforms? NO
  • I think you need to ask why there is such low appetite on part of social media to self-regulate. Why are they not follow due diligence and why is the government not making them accountable? Do you have an answer? NO
  • Do you know the level of violence that exists on social media ? They end up suspending your account for comments like “I am going to kill you”. They take it as a ‘Death Threat’ even if your sister was just kidding.
  • Could you do a policing on each bit of content? NO

 

It strangles freedom of expression of a citizen, how will you decide what’s objectionable and what’s not? Most importantly objectionable for whom?

  • On what basis will you differentiate curated content platforms and user generated content social media platforms?
  • Today, Youtubers have millions of subscribers, there are possibly thousands of YouTube channels, they create thousands of videos and web series. They produce news stories without any fact checking or any knowledge on journalism. Can each such pieces of content be regulated? NO
  • Can you define parameters for regulating online content and News on the basis of any ideology? NO

In layman terms; regulating a piece of content on the free, borderless and democratic internet, I repeat, is nothing but not only a waste of time, effort and resource but at the same time a violation of your basic freedom of expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.

Do we need a governing body for the internet like the Censor Board for Films?

Is it even practically possible? For a movie to release for a community viewing with hundreds of people in a dark room they need an approval by a bunch of people who decide on behalf of the whole country what is apparently “appropriate for peoples’ consumption”  & we have come to terms with it.

 

We know it is there to stay, but why regulate OTT?! (not clear what this means?)

So much for the 21st century? As mentioned before, me being a professional Creative Content Writer; I could safely say that brands/content curators/movie makers have to scratch their heads to ensure they not only satisfy everyone but not to offend any particular political party or a particular region or a particular caste or a language group!

(Is it possible? Even Jesus Christ & great philanthropists failed at it). (sorry but the message you are trying to convey is lost)

Are we saying that controlling an already controlled platform solves the issue?

NO.

There are various levels filters exist on VoD platforms with pay-wall, age-classification, content-description to protect children from getting access to adult, , Violent, Drug Abuse content amongst others.

A strict age restriction for consuming content. A consent of the user gets confirmed by his/her choice. What would you  achieve by regulating curated content?

If a curated content platform violates the law of the land – don’t we have enough provisions under the IT Act and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)? In this light why do social media not have due diligence?

Kill art, expression, and views. The internet is a democratic place, kindly refrain from mutilating this platform as it empowers the common man, it is witnessing  tremendous growth and has a potential to grow multiple-fold by creating entertaining content, employment opportunities & revenue.

Want to take this opportunity to bring to your kind knowledge the PM’s statement on 25th September 2019, during his speech at Bloomberg Global Business Forum, that he was in favour of using the social media as a “good weapon” for good governance and he himself is trying in that direction.

Even before in November 2016,  the PM said that there should be no government interference in the functioning of media but advised self-regulation by making appropriate changes with times, asserting that things will not change from external control.

No one can forget the saga in CBFC when Pahlaj Nahlani was at its help and it won’t be wrong if I do mention that felt enough of patronizing on what are we supposed to view as per the diktat holding a chair commanding mortals on what they should be doing.

Controversies with movies has been normal; but isn’t post-facto a clear way of reporting a piece of content/video to be taken down if it seems wrong? Rather than giving it to committee to decide on behalf of people?

Take, Padmavat & Udtaa Punjab (Showing Drug Usage) as examples; there are countless & I don’t wish to exaggerate on the list.

How it affects us at large?

Coming to the point; there have been really kick-ass (Pardon my language, no one to regulate that till now) in the recent past, take for e.g: The Office (India), Inside Edge,  Gandii Baat,  and many more!

So, Dear Ravishankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar

Don’t kill art, expression, and views!

I would rather want your attention  to bring big tech companies or intermediaries to come to the table to discuss and introduce self-regulation of their social media platforms.

Harassment being the biggest point; a strongly controlled rule for violation.

Let’s also take an example of twitter banning accounts who use words like “Kill, Suicide, Bombs etc.”

One needs to understand the motive before banning, the use of Artificial Intelligence by flagging a few words doesn’t do justice. E.g. A friend uploads an old embarrassing picture of me wearing really weird clothes, I comment “I’ll stab you, delete it”. It’s a friendly banter for God’s sake! No one is running with a knife in his hand blood hungry for someone’s life.

This is exactly why we need post-facto, if any comment is considered as seriously threatening, one can complain about it then the social media platforms or intermediaries to immediately take down such violative content.

Movies; production houses spend crores in making a movie, money and efforts are put in to ensure no piracy, but hey I have a FB page let me broadcast it! Those have millions of views. Look Maa, all efforts are going down the drain!

We can take examples from all across the globe on internet regulation and how did people react. Let UGC be UGC, do not infiltrate it, you are doing nothing but biding us from expressing. Banning a single-platform won’t help, neither can one keep an eye on all; as suggested post-facto would help better; if anyone has a problem with any piece of content; go ahead and report it. Make a strong back-end self-regulation committee that could take swift action on matters of immediate concern. Not by restricting users or any platforms, by doing that you are only diluting the purity of content.

What could be done?

–              Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content

–              Platforms should publish transparency reports on how effectively they get rid of harmful content

–              As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “rather than regulation that varies significantly by country and state — we will ensure that the internet does not get fractured, entrepreneurs can build products that serve everyone, and everyone gets the same protection”

–              In case of any disagreements from both sides in specific cases, the same should be taken to the court and let the honourable judiciary take a call.

Moral of the story; While we try to make sure that the internet is not disturbing peoples’ peace and harmony or promoting any illegal activity; it is in your responsible hands to make sure that the freedom of speech stays alive!  Let our original content produced by young Indian minds be seen by the world and thus India could use its soft power strategically and India could become the creative hub of the world.

SAVE OUR CONTENT!

Truly Yours,

An Ordinary Internet User.

Author Wilson Pereira, Social Media Activist based out of Bangalore

-advertisement-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
X

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker