An Unofficial Feature of social media

By Nargis Khatoon

(13/09/2020 00:30 IST)

The contemporary era is quite weird, what do you think? The place where you live in may have tight security around but you are still not safe, at least not psychologically! How? Though internet is a boon, but a bane as well if you are not alert enough. Internet has created one more world for the people of real world; this world has its own merits and demerits, like everything has.

Social media is one of the popular places in this world. Are you on social media? Let’s assume the answer to be, yes, because it has become a need today, over years the users of social media in India has increased and today it’s in millions. Some are using it for their benefits, to connect with their friends all the anytime, anywhere and many with other purposes. The reasons may vary one to another but all users of social media can agree that, abusive, offensive, hateful speeches are very common on social media, to the extent that it won’t be exaggerating to say that hateful speeches have become an ‘unofficial feature’ of social media! Whenever you use FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform, for sure you would have come across with the above “feature” once or twice and in general comment section provides the “real show” which is terribly awful. The conclusion of this hatred can be even more terrible, it can ignite violence, the recent Bangalore riots in Karnataka is an example of it, an inflammatory post about prophet Mohammad was shared on facebook, by the nephew of the Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, who is a state legislator of the Indian National Congress, after the post, allegedly, a Muslim mob arrived at this house in protest afterward the protest turned violent and severely damaged public property. It can also immensely effect on one’s mind and it becomes more poisonous when such hateful narratives are followed by large section of society.

First let us understand, what online hate speeches really is. When someone online, targets, expresses hate or encourages violence towards a people or a specified group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation, that is online hate speech. There is mechanism on all social media platform to identify and remove such contents but there are numerous posts, videos and comments which are posted each second and this is where as a user our duty begins:

What to do?

1. Don’t share: Jonathan Mead has quoted, “Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem”. If you find something like this, don’t share it, you need to consider others’ feelings as well, you have right to express your feelings but just because you think something is right, that does not mean you are free to do whatever you feel like, and one may get in trouble in future for the same. There is a need to strike a balance between freedom of expression and defense of human dignity.

2. Report it: If you see something hateful, offensive or anything which violates the community guidelines of the respected platform then report it, reporting do make difference, it may take time though, for quick action ask your friends to report the same. Users can report comments, videos, page, channel and so on and the name of the person, who has reported something, remain anonymous. Recently Instagram suspended a user, named, Hindustani Bhau, who is also a popular YouTuber, many users had been reporting his hateful and abusive posts, in response, Instagram removed his account in the charges of violation of its community guidelines.

3. Block it: If it’s happening on your channel, account or page, then block the user, who is trying to harass, bully, or spreading hatred, this would convey a message that there is no place for such things and such kind of discrimination is intolerable.

Reporting, not sharing and blocking with these, there are some don’ts as well, when you see any such posts, comments, video or anything, don’t reciprocate because this is what they want besides this can work as ‘fuel into fire’ too and other point is, don’t neglect such things, if possible take stand to the person who is being target. Some Other ‘counter speech’ techniques are: Speak with rational argument, talk about equality, inclusivity, and diversity and educate other about cyber bullying, harassment.

Recently, WSJ (Wall Street Journal) reported that Facebook is violating its own policies and not taking action against hate speeches, a user named, T Raja Singh, was acting against the community guidelines of the respected platform and Facebook is neglecting it as he has connections with the ruling party of India, the BJP and they don’t want any “issues” with the ruling party of India. But after worldwide criticism, Facebook did what it was supposed to do, it banned the user for violating its policies against hate speech and categorized him a “dangerous individual” , this indicates , no matter what, at the end what’s wrong would remain so. So by keeping our duty in view, let’s do what’s right and make the world better place to be in.

About Authors.

Nargis Khatoon

Desk Editor

References.

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