Editorial: Blaming social media

Srinagar: The developing world including country like India needs a massive support through various communication channels to overcome the development deficit. For this the emerging and vibrant social media can prove to be a powerful tool altogether.

But given the present circumstances where social media platforms have emerged as a dynamic tool for initiating and seeking a change- the government is seeing this effective medium as a potential threat.

Ironically, it was no other than the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh who said in Delhi on Wednesday that Social media has posed a serious challenge to law enforcement agencies and the area of concerns include terrorism, financial frauds and victimisation of women and children.

The Home Minister Rajnath Singh while inaugurating a two-day Asia-Pacific regional conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said that serious crime develops because the police and citizens do not work together to prevent decay of social norms and social disorder.

Though he failed to give broader contours of the issues that have surfaced due to emergence of social media but the Minister pointed out to various areas of concern.

One law and order, two crimes like fake and imitating accounts, financial frauds, malware delivery, drug and other illegal article sales, victimisation of women and children and terrorism.

Though these issues have been confronting all the governments in the past, but the way the present government is trying to blame the social media for all the ills is in no way justified.

The present government believes that success very much hinges on the swaying and control of public opinion. That is the reason it tries to escape public conversation. But, instead of taking an escape route the government needs to influence public conversation and for this the governments must now actively participate in that conversation. In today’s digital world, that conversation is on social media.

Interestingly, many policymakers are now taking notice of this trend. In a 2015 social media study commissioned by the American Congressional Management Foundation, 76 percent of American policymakers reported social media enabled them to have more meaningful interactions with their constituents.

Social media has also transformed how government organizations communicate during an emergency. Besides, it has emerged as a collaborative and participatory tool, connects users with each other and help shaping various communities.

Playing a key role in delivering public service value to citizens it also helps people to engage in politics and policy-making, making processes easier to understand, through information and communication technologies. The fact is no hidden secret that four out of five countries in the world have social media features on their national portals to promote interactive networking and communication with the citizen.

However, instead of blaming this powerful medium the government needs to focus on engaging and encouraging public to become more socially responsible and politically involved. This will help fasten the change and bring in development at a much faster pace.




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