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‘The shoot & scoot’: Social media menace

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Earlier Social Media was considered as a  platform for expressing your opinions on various issues impacting us in a different way though it is still a platform for expressing our opinions and fighting for various issues/good causes but now it’s often seen that has become a platform of defaming/accusing people without facts. This kind of act amounts to misuse of social media platform.

Importance of Social Media

The social media has a lot of importance in today’s world, one can’t deny that it’s one of the most influential mediums to put out things and express your opinion.

The Data

As per a recent data by statista.com, India ranked 3rd with 18.8 million users with Japan 2nd and US 1st. It was based on number of Twitter users as of April 2021.

Analysis

When we analyze the points above it is well understood that Social Media is influential tool. Though it has many good points but it has some cons too. One of the biggest drawbacks of Social media is spreading fake news and defamatory content about people, which is often complained in the social media platform itself.

It’s a hard fact that reputation of people on social media has become a child’s play for certain people on Twitter.

Let’s put things one by one here.

Drawback and Solutions:

Fake News and defamatory content is the biggest challenge we as a country face in the current scenario where people tend to spread anything they want on twitter. One of the biggest examples of fake news is spreading rumor of someone’s death or ill-health or sometimes even sharing old clips of violence and claiming it be today’s or of recent times and always gets shared by people with mass reach and when they put it on twitter it gets mass retweets, likes and comments it spreads at greater length but when any authority clarifies it becomes too late because the has already seen by the mass audience and probably they get shared over WhatsApp too.

Another big drawback is defamatory content, sometimes people on Twitter put series of tweets claiming, making allegations on people without any verification or before clarifying it. Probably when they put series of tweets on a personality  who’s very popular that tweet already gets mass engagement and defamatory comments for the personality if  twitter user has made allegations of wrong doing until when personality clarifies and puts out details it’s too late and the damage is done. Sometimes they deliberately selectively leak things or deliberately mark particular points which lead to misinterpretation and causing damage to reputation of personality . In many occasions they have shared heavily edited clips which can cause damaged to one’s reputation.

Sometimes they make disgusting memes to discredit and ridicule personalities. In November 2020, certain section of twitter users called Honourable Justice D.Y Chandrachud names because he granted interim bail to a personality who is always hated by that group of people.

The bad effect is that sometimes such things get mass engagement and if gets broadcasted on news channels or get printed in newspapers or both them the chances of defamation, spreading of fake news reaches public at large and reputation is damaged at large and if news is about particular place or incident it could fuel tensions or threaten the sovereignty of country to an extent. All the hard earned reputation of a personality goes away in single tweet which can be traumatizing to an extent especially for self-made people. If personality is an entrepreneur damages could be more.

Even if a personality clarifies things with facts or authorities reply with facts the damage is already done because lies always spread faster than truth. Whenever someone tweets anything which is ‘Sensational’ no matter how defamatory it is, if it’s about public personality who’s way famous it gets a lot of engagements and despite clarifications they will tend to put that point again and again.

But there’s rule of law and if that particular personality thinks he/she has/have  been defamed by that person, so he/she has every right to take a legal recourse they can file either civil defamation or criminal defamation or both for prosecution of person concerned and to compensate adequately.

In case of fake news, if a particular resident of that area thinks that a twitter user has spread fake news about his/her locality so they can lodge a complaint with nearest police station and police can file FIR in relevant sections of the IPC.

On 13th July 2021, Delhi High Court asked Saket Gokhale to delete his ‘defamatory tweets’ on Mrs. Puri who is an ex-diplomat and Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri who is a Union Minister. While directing him to delete the tweets, Delhi High Court made several observations. Though it’s an interim order and final judgment is yet to be delivered but this ‘Interim Order’ had ignited the debate of will people get away with defamatory tweets on individual or not.

Conclusion

At the end we must remember that Art 19 (1) (a) of the guarantees to all its citizens the right of freedom of speech but this comes with restrictions. We must choose this for the good and not for defaming or tarnishing people or spreading fake news which has consequences. It’s not only about public personality or a place we could be victims of defamation too and fake news too so choose social media to make people aware and not defame and lastly use social media to make India Great and not break it.

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