Social media under the scanner
Posted by Amit Banerjee
Government of India seems to be wielding the proverbial axes, most recently, against the social media platform, Twitter. The micro blogging site didn’t seem to pay heed to the previous notices from the government but on receiving an ultimatum of the blanket blockage of their site in the country, Twitter seems to have relented and blocked a few accounts/pages which were ascertained to be offensive by the government.
All this was a fallout of the unrest in various parts of the country sparked off by salacious comments and posts on social media platforms and SMS messages! It is actually commendable that the government is trying to combat flagrant misinformation being spread through social media platforms in an attempt to start ethnic violence in the country!! That effort is a complete thumbs-up to the government.
What definitely gets a thumbs down is the using the pre-text of blocking the cyber crime to shut down the opposition!! Democracy is all about getting the masses vote to stay in power and not use heavy handedness to eliminate the opposition’s voice! That is the starting of what is known as “dictatorship”. If you really want to block access to accounts which are a parody of the PMO and other key government areas, then setup a parliamentary committee consisting of opposition leaders to ascertain if blocking is the right way to go!
An old adage had once claimed “Actions speak louder than words” If you are so above reproach, then the actions of the government will show the country’s citizens that the 140 characters posts being propagated about the current administration is a farce and has not iota of truth in it. But reading the current papers and looking at the inflation numbers, you would want to think otherwise!!
The fundamental right of Freedom of Speech is a much talked about right nowadays. But the simplicity of this law is the evident. A citizen has the right to express his/her views as long as it doesn’t cause harm to another individual(s). Now that being said…. Blocking the accounts or pages which are catalysts for instigating violence in the country should be policed!! But the ones which do not pose a threat and are merely voicing their opinion cannot be subjected to the same fate as the former!! If such a case were true, then all opposition parties should be banned from contesting during elections as they do not shower any praises on the current ruling party or coalition!
In this entire episode of censorship, the biggest source of embarrassment was that Twitter had suspended the account of the Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology!! Talk about a classic irony!! The account was later restored with an apology issued from Twitter for the mishap.