OpinionLegal View

Modi’s message to Social Media: Fall in line or fall by the wayside

We are in a digitalized world. Everything is digital or about to become digital. Digitalization has not only helped in getting businesses global but also got people from around the globe to come close. Various Social Media Platforms have come to bring people to a close where people from different backgrounds share their ideas and enthusiasm without being concerned about society. However, governments around the globe are facing tough problems with this freedom. In a democratic society, no freedom could be absolute. There is a long tussle among the social media giants and the governments. At a time when the availability of mobile phones and the internet is available to common households at large and different governments are trying to make it available to an even larger population, the role and usage of Social Media platforms have risen exponentially.

 Various Social Media Platforms are available to people around the globe. The most prominent Social Media Platforms often referred to as Social Media Giants include Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Instagram is owned by Facebook and both Facebook and Twitter have their head offices in the United States. These three social media platforms are available in almost every country across the globe baring few autocratic nations including North Korea and the People’s Republic of China. In democracies, however, these Social Media Giants have made good customer base and now even making good money out of it. At a time when internet usage has become alike a fundamental right, usage of such Social Media Giants have also increased who are spending a good amount in promoting themselves and updating their systems.

 These Social Media Giants after getting a good business and customer base amend their rules and policies as per their wish and desire. Due to such changes, the role to curtail content or to promote content has come up in the hand of these Giants. Initially, these Giants were created to provide a platform and thus most of the countries around the globe have provided them with the status of Intermediary that is equivalent to a Cybercafe where a customer uses the Platform to use computer device and internet where there is no role of Cybercafe in any manner. However, the role of Social Media is not restricted to that anymore. They can now not only promote or withheld a post but could restrict the usage, take down a post and deplatform a user by deleting the account. These functions have granted them the power of an administrator on their platforms which may sometimes not seem reasonable.

 US Elections 2020 was in news worldwide because of the overpowered Social Media Giants. These giants not only labelled much information to be disputed but also de-platformed Donald Trump, the then President of the United States after he lost the elections.

In India, Bharatiya Janata Party which is currently ruling the nation claimed that the Indian National Congress, the principle opposition party of India has formed a Toolkit to defame PM Narendra Modi, India, and the Hindu community by spreading fake/manufactured news/information. Even before law agencies of India started investigating, posts of various senior leaders of BJP on Twitter claiming the existence of Toolkit were labelled disputed. However, same Twitter didn’t label posts as disputed when a criminal case was pushed as communal violence by various left-leaning influencers. This act of Twitter is considered wrong since they decided to act selectively. These things have definitely irked the government of India.

 Various nations are trying to bring the giant’s under the control of the law of the land, however, these Social Media Giants are hell bound not to accept the same. Due to this, Nigeria banned Twitter while Russia heavily penalized.

Nigeria has recently banned Twitter for its posts, the arbitrary decision of removing a post of their President, Russia has penalized twitter for not removing a post. India which is the biggest democracy however took a different path. It gave these Social Media Giants three months to follow the rule of the land and included points through which it could take any action against them in case of any violation. Currently, content disrespectful to the Hindu community, fake content, or content that can lead to violence takes much more time for the law agencies to be taken down from these platforms as the compliance is slow. Many Social Media Giants have accepted the rules while few are refusing to follow.

At a time when Social Media Giants are powerful enough to create a narrative, defeat a Political Party, create communal tensions and spread terror, it is unlikely that India will let them go unchecked.

Modi’s message is very clear: Fall in line or fall by the wayside.

Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com

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