Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Ugly Face of Social Media

Social Media has been quite a revolution in recent times. It has given voice to the unheard section of society. A person stranded in a foreign land tweets to the MEA and instantly she gets required assistance from the govt. There have been examples of families getting reunited via Facebook. Instances like these tell us the impact of social media in common man's life. But as with every invention, this invention also comes with riders. In fact, very dangerous riders.

The idea of Social media is very novel. Its impact has been very notable. But again, this very quality has made it a hot commodity. A commodity that can be easily manipulated. It has become one of the major tools in the hands of media pundits, management gurus, who use them to their desired end. Twitter and Facebook, with their immense membership, have been the main actors in this manipulative game. Tweets are artificially promoted, while some are promoted with all the transparency, some are artificially made to trend. Twitter is full of fake, dummy profiles, which are used to send the same tweet with required hashtag (#), to make it trend and hence catch the attention of public in general. This is predominantly seen during a movie or a product launch.

While, the above misuse is deceptive but not harmful per se. But this is not the end, but just the beginning. Lets see how this takes a harmful shape. Fareed Zakaria, host at CNN, wrote an article in Washington Post on how he was trolled in internet. In the article he comes with an interesting proposition - "group polarization". Anybody familiar with internet trolling can easily identify with this phenomenon. This group polarization has taken very dangerous turn in recent times and in some cases has manifested fatally in real world.

Even political elements have not stayed back in capturing this media for ulterior motives. "Internet Armies" have been created by the political establishments. They, very intelligently, seep content in to the social networking sites favouring them and in worst cases the contents are targeted at political opponents. While, such efforts from politicians are not new and not unique to social media, but social media has taken the vile to very high level. Social media has been abundant with misinformation campaigns, wrong data are fed as facts and many gullible social media users fall prey to these tactics. With large following in these social media sites, the misinformation spreads, literally, like a wild fire. Unhindered flow of misinformation has certainly given rise to 'more' intolerance, and this is not unique to India, if one has followed Donald Trump's campaign can associate with this.

Social Media has many many advantages and has made flow of information very easy and lightning quick. But it is slowly but surely showing its ugly side. While it is next to impossible to regulate the data that is being transmitted, one way out could be making the users more knowledgeable and aware of the ills of social media. The more we neglect this, more powerful it will become. 

1 comment:

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