Social Networking Websites are platforms created for common people where they could share their thoughts and expressions. It also acts as a bridge between people and authorities. There are many Social Networking Websites however the most famous of them are Facebook and Twitter. In the era of internet, these two platforms have allowed the prophet to use the platform to explore freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by Indian Constitution. However, the world politics isn’t letting it stay like that.
During US elections, Twitter was accused of flagging various Tweets of Donald Trump and his team. It was often reported that Twitter have flagged tweets which were correct. Similar things are happening in India. Twitter often flags and sometimes ban the Twitter handles of people with a particular ideology even if there isn’t a violation of the code of conduct prepared by Twitter while the others stay on the platform even after tweeting stuffs which can’t be considered as normal in normal life. So why is it happening?
Twitter has often been accused of promoting and supporting Leftist ideology. India is currently run by Bharatiya Janata Party which is a right wing party and to counter it, all opposition parties have come together while adapting the policies of left. Due to this, there became a clear distinction between right and left even in a multiple party system in India. Now, if the Twitter is supporting the leftist ideology, it’ll be against the norms since such platforms needs to be neutral so as to act in accordance with the law of the land. Another problem is that Twitter is so famous in India, yet it isn’t verifying account in India in such a level as it does in US. Due to it, many celebrities and big accounts are not verified which has led to fake accounts in their name. In the same time, people with left ideology are given preference and get verified even with less followers in comparison to their counterpart.
Twitter and Facebook are Multinational Companies based in US and have got their own rights to operate in India, however no right could be absolute in such a way that it starts violating the rights of others. Suspending an account is like taking away the right to speak and express which is not only bad in eye of law but is against the very foundation of social media which was formed to allow people to share themselves. Another problem is with Shadow banning where Twitter restricts a particular Twitter handle from being visible to others for the time being. Due to this, the engagement of the particular Twitter handle get reduced significantly, which result in the loss of followers.
Social Media giants like Twitter and Facebook are often called as the messenger of democracy in Middle East, however what they’re doing in India is nowhere close to it. In contrary, it is more like taking away the rights of millions of Indians. Hopefully, Government of India put some checks and balances on these platforms before it’s too late. There must be a module for these social media platforms where proper guidelines must be set by the government. And there must be a mechanism to sort out the problems associated with these platforms. People facing problems often goes to court which is neither equipped to deal with such cases nor have got time due to being overburdened because of crores of pending cases. A separate mechanism with quasi-judicial power would settle the issue and be beneficial for the democracy of the country in the long run.
If social media is the present and the future of humanity, it must be secure and unbiased. A platform with mass appeal and influence can’t be allowed to go unchecked.
Author: Adv. Shashank Shekhar Jha
Legal Editor, GoaChronicle.com