The invention of IT or Information Technology along with associated communication technologies is the greatest and an exceptional gift from the scientific community to the mankind. Due to its monumental importance, it is often rightly dubbed as InfoTech revolution. Though these technological revolution have managed to set the complete human civilization on the fast forward mode through introduction of unprecedented pace in information and communication, there are a few disruptions also. One such disruption that has revolutionised the approach of exchanging the information in real time had been the rise of social media. Social media has triggered a revolution of information all over the world which has forced government, organisation and individuals for reconsidering their strategies on approaches to manage information and enter into the progressively interconnected world. It has not only challenged information hierarchies but has also opened the door for accessing & producing an all new information exchange ecosystem. Technological revolution is fast & evolves constantly which creates borders, barriers & control irrelevant.
In this article today we are going to analyse the impact of social media & its recent challenges, but before we move on let us check on the growth of social in the country.
Growth of Social Media in India
According to the recent reports, 143 million Indians are users of social media and what was more surprising was to hear that there was a more than 100% hike in the user’s list in rural India between 2014 & 2015 and this number is increasing. The Internet & Mobile Association of India reported, “The fact that almost two thirds of the users are already accessing social media through their mobiles is a promising sign. With the expected increase in mobile traffic the number of users accessing social media on the mobile is only bound to increase.”In spite of penetration of healthy internet environment being limited mainly within the urban boundaries, the availability of cheap mobile devices has completely changed the game. Approximately, with more than 371 million people accessing the internet from mobiles, India is considered to be the second largest social networking market of Facebook just after the US. Data shows that per month over 60 million Google’s and YouTube’s videos are shared in India. But it does not end here. There are over 22.2 million Twitter users from all over the country which constitutes the third largest Twitter user data base globally. As these numbers are enormous, there are many implications also in terms of law & order and security.
It would be hard for the government agencies to match the speed of radical technological innovations but it is essential for them to be proactive in their engagement & outreach efforts in ensuring collaboration among citizens, e-governance, instituting secure communities, and also having a paradigm of operating stratagem in place that could be put into operation at emergency situations.
Impacts & New Challenges of Social Media
The internet is the highly preferred platform of the Indian government for socio-economic empowerment schemes and achieving various developmental goals but at the same time it intensifies the menace of India’s vulnerabilities.
In this decade, the potentiality of the social media in the field of co-ordinating huge protests all over the country has been witnessed by India with the movement – India Against Corruption led by Anna Hazare. Though these protests were peaceful, they rigorously tested the local security infrastructure with reference to sheer numbers. Similar things were seen at the aftermath of tragic Delhi rape case incident where numerous protestors used social media for mobilising themselves.
What is worse is that mobiles & social networking sites are often utilized for sending hate massages & offensive clips. In North Eastern Mass Exodus and Muzaffar Nagar Riots, it was revealed through investigation that the hate contents which were circulated through the social media had sparked the communal clashes. Reports claim that there is a hike of 25% in the growth of “problematic” social networking groups over the internet. The survey was done by taking into account over 10,000 problematic web sites, portals, social networking groups, chat rooms, blogs, hate games& videos on the internet that promote anti-Semitism, racial violence, hate music, homophobia & terrorism. In simple words hate speech can be elucidated as an antisocial oratory which intends at encouraging persecution against people because of their colour, race, religion, nationality or ethnic group & has a substantial possibility of causing harm. It has got various dimensions – content, context, tone, targets & potential implications of speech.
Additionally, it is also witnessed that the spread of “new media phenomena” in the country where traditional media (radio & television) is increasingly depending on social media for feeding its 24 hrs news cycle & to pick content & coverage steered by social media trends. The impact on customers has been doubled by this symbiotic relationship which further gave more visibility to the social media platforms. The convergence of different forms of media such as television, online & social networks as generators of user content & instruments of information – has numerous implications over law & order and also on security.
Social media is a platform which provides a unique opportunity to the common masses to freely interact with each other which have also resulted in creating multiple problems to the society. The way autocracy was overthrown in Arab had manifested that the connectivity of Twitter & Facebook can foment revolution. It depicted that as social media has the power of uniting those who challenge systems like that of Egypt’s where voice of common citizens were not paid any heed, at the same time, it can smithereens a society like the US where everyone’s voice is taken into consideration. But, with the escalation of social media, various complicated legal as well as social issues have also come to light such as pornography & obscenity; hate speech as mentioned earlier; identity theft; issues concerning intellectual property such as copy right infringement, trademark infringement & dilution and disclosure of trade secrets; defamation; privacy violation by social media; cyber bulling & harassment; social media and freedom of speech & expression.
It is of very essential to tap the widespread capacity of spreading information by social media by enforcing security & law agencies to wrest the control back from the hands of the crime perpetrators. However, blocking the medium might not be a proper solution but within the medium which provides avenues for connectedness, engagement and collaboration & may also double up as a reservoir of open source intelligence if could be used to its optimal potential.