Is Social Media a double edged sword?

October 4, 2019

Across the world, the idea of connecting has become more and more popularised. The need for interaction may have reduced, concerning interactions in person, but has increased overall, allowing people the comfort of interacting without necessarily any other form of investment. This assures all participants the support of anonymity, including those who may use this to exploit others on such platforms. With 56 crore Internet users in India, social media has become a double-edged sword that can result in both positive and negative outcomes, depending on its usage.

The advantages of the internet and any of its subsidiaries are numerous. During the recent floods in India, we witnessed how social media played a pivotal part interconnecting donors, volunteers and flood victims. Research has become immensely easier since the time spent in physical examination dependent on libraries and availability. Connecting with persons of interest has also grown easier ten-fold. However, these same advantages if exploited, become the banes of the internet. A majority of adult Indians are connected, often to strangers as well, via some form of social media, directly or indirectly.

In the times of cyber warfare, it is not only government data that needs to be protected but also individual user’s privacy. Across the world, nations and regions are coming up with regulations to maintain data privacy and data localisation. To sustain such security it is necessary to, now, link one’s accounts, with some authentic form of identification, ranging from Aadhar cards to Driving licenses.

Currently, with the commercial acquisition of many platforms by Google or Facebook, and the verification needed by most platforms by these tech giants, the idea of security needs to be ensured by the government charged by the people for protection, against these market players working for profit.

Connecting these accounts to a form of unique identification will also ensure that any account registered within this system can only be accessed by the authentic owner of the account. Further, such methods will protect the user from malicious content, fake news, fear-mongering, cyberbullying, terrorism and anti-national posts. With more than 38 crore Indians using their smartphones as the primary source of news, the necessity for such action is of primary importance.

The lead in the argument against such a movement towards security is mostly spearheaded by large commercial enterprises such as Facebook, Google and others. This argument has swept a few members of society under the farce of free speech. However, what is ignored by these platforms and those who support them is that freedom of speech is not the target, but the maintenance of autonomy and data sovereignty. Currently, this data is not maintained within borders or with elected and trusted governments, but with organisations, who within their terms and conditions mention that any data can be sold for ad revenue beneficial to the company, no matter the lack of security, inconvenience and loss of agency this may cause the user.

The fears brought up by the youth of today and the vindication provided alternatively is available in the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuBjSCz9Kv4

From the Burhan Wani case on Facebook to multiple platforms that have been created and can be accessed using Google for sale and purchase of illegal substances, the time is nigh to implement the policy approved by the Supreme Court to ensure Indians stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technological agency.

There is always protest to new regulations when the populous is newly introduced to a change; however, the resilience a policy shows only enhances the value of such a policy. The protection of the population of India is a responsibility assigned to the government, and here, the government must take the lead with its origination in governance.

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