Very recently Mr. Kapil Sibal used his privilege of speech and suggested screening of content on social networking websites. As we all know by now, this invited many a mixed reactions. While the Gandhi scion partially agreed with him, Mr Sibal garnered solid support from the J&K chief minister who in fact is a victim of offensive content posted about his family sometime in 2010.
A Harvard law graduate, former Additional Solicitor General of India, and current Member of Parliament, Sibal, plainly said, ‘Doing this gives me no pleasure, but the fact is that there’s a problem!’
There certainly is a problem. As a reader of my blog which generally drives most of its traffic from a website called facebook.com, you would know what goes on there! There are hate pages, hate pictures, hate statuses and of course some hateful people. There are many impending questions before the country concurs on a solution. Where do we draw the line? Who draws it? Who monitors the content? Should it be the western laws, the Indian laws, Facebook laws, Twitter laws or an International body of all. And who would provide the man-power for such monitoring? Very recently I read something in jest suggesting Facebook hiring an IIT graduate for Rs 65L p.a. just for screening its content. Yes the mockery is obvious. And we called for it. No matter how much the erudite commentators or the opposition call it a political move, Mr Sibal is right – There is a problem.
There is a problem when I see a picture exhorting profanity. There is a problem if a comment takes jingoism to zealotry. There is certainly a problem when morphed pictures of someone you know does rounds of ‘shares’ or ‘likes’. In fact, there’s a problem even if wrong information virally spreads across facebook which is a regular feature now! You would instantly agree seeing a post of ‘Facebook shutting down in March, Mr. Zuckerberg retires’ with more shares than, well, something more sane. Here’s the bigger question - Have we, the loyal netizens ever reported malicious content? Have we ever requested a ‘friend’ not to publicly ridicule a person, community, religion or a country? Rarely, right? And therefore, I see Mr. Sibal’s concern. He is allowed to assume that an wrongly inciting ‘page’ or ‘post’ will certainly gain momentum with neurologically stunted youth on it.
Let us use social networking more intelligibly. Kill the need to monitor content. Create the line of control for yourself. You, my reader, know what you do not want to see. You, my facebook friend, know what is offensive to your nation or your religion. You also know what is offensive to anyone else too! Adopt zero tolerance (no likes or shares) towards all malicious, defaming and wrong information. Report the same promptly. The web is ours to communicate. Let’s not create a parallel world of hatred and territories and complicated laws out there! The freedom of speech is ours. The responsibility to filter out the unsocial creeps is ours too.
Sometimes I wish, this were possible in the real world too.
I wonder if this would incite a flurry of Facebook shares. :)