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– Radhika Maheshwari

Today’s generation has skipped from being a ‘Tech Savvy’ to “Social Media Savvy”. Of about 2/3rd of Indians spend their time online on different social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. From the past six to seven years, Social Media have become increasingly popular in our day to day lives.? It provides a platform not only to the individuals but also to the businesses where they can communicate and promote with each other irrespective of the distance and time.

One-to-one & group interactions, live chat, status updates, document, image & video-sharing are few of the major aspects that play a role in the popularity of social media. On the other hand, customer’s reactions, interaction and awareness for the brand is why the companies are using social media in India and across the globe.

“While ‘Social’ refers to getting in touch with other people by sharing information with them and receiving information from them. The ‘Media’ refers to a pathway of communication and providing information.”

Social Media is a phrase dealt with the collection of online communication channels that enables people interact and share information through the virtual networks. It helps connect people regardless of the geographical boundaries & ties an individual with the different people of different cultures. Sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, have created online communities where people can share their personal information as they desire. Earlier social media was the platform to learn about their countries or to maintain certain relationships, but now the scenario has changed.

“Social media websites are some of the most popular haunts on the Internet. They have revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize on the Web.”  The continuous use of this kind of technology is harmful as it is limiting us to only one group of people who are not friends but are supposed to be friends. The social media is not only affecting the people but also affecting the politics, business as well as cyberbullying in a negative sense.

“Social media is as open to misuse as a computer is to the virus.” Justice Katju stated in the letter to the broadcasting ministry that a new practice has been started to defame people, community, religion, etc. through social media.

Some misuses that are associated with the social media are:

Defamation: The most affected people through social media are politicians and celebrities. They are the segment of people which are punished brutally by social media. People have got a medium to express their anger and to defame them through tweeting or by other social networking sites. The click of the like button on the Facebook can lead your action as absurd, and this can make you liable for the crime of social media abuse.

False and unreliable information: Apart from defamation, there is increasing misuse of the social networking sites. People make fake accounts of celebrities, politicians & others and spread false stories. Hacking of accounts of different users and accessing their personal information is also creating problems in daily lives.

Sexual Predators: The social media is an open door to predators, it means that through social media, an individual can do anything to harm others. For example, the most common scenario when a man of 42 years makes an email account using fake name and picture of 16 years old boy, communicate to others and ask them to meet in person. Due to this kind of predators, many of the children are victims of online sexual solicitation. Other than sexual predators, there is another kind of social abuse that is cyber bullying. Another effect of the misuse of social media is that even the minors have easy access to all types of porn sites which results in the rapid change of behavior in the young generation.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is the act of bullying by harming or harassing using electronic technology. There are many ways of cyber bullying but the most common way to bully a person is to add users to the bullies account and begins to bully in the way of harassing the user through teasing, derogatory remarks, etc.  The other way to bully a person is to write defamatory remarks on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc. While it is also trace down these bullies on the internet as they use fake background, name and pictures.

Loss of Privacy: Social media is easily being misused by employees. The employees make awful remarks and post inappropriate material for the employer. Hacking can also be used as loss of private information. Bullies even take pictures, email addresses and phone numbers and create fake account and spoil he reputation of an individual.

Fraud: Another consequence of the misuse of social media can be buying a product which does not exist. The recent example of such a misuse was the smartphone named Freedom 251. Many people bought the phone online and later found out that the company was fraud and does not exist in real.

Formation of terrorist groups: Social media has given various social and terrorists groups to attack youngsters and make them a part of the group. Social media gives access for them to connect lay man through messages and pull them towards them making a part of the group. They can easily share messages, videos, pictures to provoke youngsters and create hatred in their minds.

Further, in 2012, the misuse of social media came to the attention of government when the morphed videos and picture of an earthquake began to go viral. “Miscreants were morphing these images to show that these were Muslim victims of civil riots in Assam and Burma.” This was done to provoke the riots by vested interest. This provocation leads to hate and revenge messages against Hindu Migrants.

In terms of social media content, where do you draw a line between what is freedom of speech and what comprises deflating, inflammatory or communal content? What may seem acceptable to one part of the country may be completely unacceptable to another part? Again, what is seen to be acceptable to urban citizens may not be socially acceptable to the rural folk. And, it takes just one upload to go viral and trigger a violent reaction. These are very real issues and the government is yet to respond to these emerging threats with the urgency that it should.

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