On Social Media

On Social Media
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A man arrested for posting morphed pictures of a woman on social media and then blackmailing her has been denied bail. The man in contention had found the phone of the victim after she had lost it and then misused the whole saga. The issue here raises a whole host of issues regarding communications technology, especially social media. A medium which was supposed to usher in increased democracy and transparency has also turned out to be one which is open to misuse at and on a range of levels. It may be said that the most vulnerable to the misuse of technological communications, social media and so on are the children. Here in Kashmir (and perhaps elsewhere), a game called PUBG making many addicts and exacting victims by the day. From a macro perspective of a political nature, it is alleged that Russia employed social media so effectively as to determine the outcome of the United States’ presidential elections. On a day today basis, the debates and discussions, on social media often turn ugly and acrimonious largely because of the anonymity that the medium affords. The norms of civility and politeness are discarded in favor of incivility and impropriety. These are the pitfalls and cons of social media but all this is not to state that the medium is totally bad, insalubrious and negative. No. Not at all. Social media is in the name of a game changer and is, by leaps and bounds, having a transformational impact on society, politics, and economics and so on. It is set to increase this role as the medium becomes more embedded in the lives of peoples across the length and breadth of the world. But, besides its positive and transformational role, social media, to repeat, as the case in contention reveals, has a dark side too. How can this ugly side be checked? One prong of the answer lies with the tech giants of social media who must ensure that the medium stays on the positive side to the extent possible. But, importantly, the answer lies with people themselves, that is, the users of social media. In the final analysis, if the tech giants lean too heavily on policing social media, it would amount to censorship. The most prudent and effective answer to some of the ills that plague the medium would be self ethics and prudent behavior by people. Let us all pledge to make the best of the medium and ensure that it is used for the good.