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Why discourage contrarian views, online?

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A social media savvy recounts his appalling experience with some news organisation’s wariness of the readers’ comments on stories shared on their Facebook page, ironically for the sake of the same readers. Mind if you agree to differ with the thoughts of those shared stories and comment on a section meant for it to express your views, you could lose your right to access those stories next time, nay access to the online page itself. Does comment moderation mean to take out contrary views and block out those who speak a different language?

As a regular reader of the esteemed media outlet’s news and stories, he feels miffed at the instance that his comments on a particular story/editorial shared by the organisation on their Facebook page have been taken down. The swat didn’t stop there. It was wielded to further block him out of the online page. Doesn’t it amount to the outrage of the reader’s constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to freedom of expression and speech? On top of that the reader forfeits his right to access online content for holding a contrarian view that apparently doesn’t synch with the so-called political leaning of the content producer, should there be any. That’s as weird as it sounds. As a matter of fact, no media orgainsaiton should have a political axe to grind with their valuable readers.

The peeved reader asks, ‘If a distinguished media house is so intolerant with his counter-arguments, how can it ensure as the fourth pillar of democracy that the freedom of expression of the common men is never hijacked’? He feels perturbed at the irony of the fact that such instances of gagging the voice of the people are enacted by media crusaders who are up in arms against the curtailment of freedom of speech & expression under the current dispensation.

To my mind, it’s unbecoming of any news organisation or news portal to moderate comments with a certain degree of leanings unless they are offensive and abusive. Otherwise, it lays bare the furtive agenda of the organisation to crush differences of opinion. Lest we forget a counter-view shouldn’t be mistaken for offensive & outrageous ones. Rather it is a cornerstone of a vibrant democracy. As being one of the pillars of democracy, media ought not to crush dissent and continue to provide a platform for the voiceless with divergent views and opinions.

Subhash Deb- The author is a media professional.

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