The Havoc Continues
I was recently asked to be on a TV panel discussion. It was not one of those very popular channels with a high TRP, but the subject ‘current trends of social networking and its future in India’, is close to my heart. I see a lot of action on this front, and believe it is one revolution that truly involved the masses, and that it has huge potential to transform India – socially, economically.
Unfortunately, all my preparations in terms of the data I had collected for making some forceful arguments went in vain. The discussion violently turned towards the misuse of applications like Whatsapp and Twitter for creating communal unrest and tensions. And how it is being mis-used by rapists, blackmailers and voyeurs to make the lives of their victims further miserable. I tried to bring the discussion on track, but was overwhelmed.
Later on I was thinking about the whole thing and realized, that while on one hand technology is progressing and its reach and use increasing, on the other its abuse and the scale of its devastating impact is actually growing manifold. I have spoken to so many service providers, technology companies and industry gurus. And all of them simply express their helplessness. The impression given is that technology is ahead of regulators, and nothing much can be done. Self regulation and building sensitivity in the society is the solution.
The fact is that whether it’s the Bangalore panic spread against folks from North East India almost 3 years back which brought the region down for a few days or the most recent beef rumor murder in Dadri, technology has played havoc. And we continue to be silent spectators.
Reminds me of the floods and drought that India faces year after year, and there seems to be no solution. For these natural calamities you can blame the Gods, but is not the wrath of Facebook and Whatsapp our own creation. Will companies and governments keep twiddling their thumbs and watch helplessly if there is bank fraud that is detected. We know the speed at which they react and take action to stop the problem and go after the the culprits. Is human life and social harmony of no value compared to bank accounts or credit card data?
While I missed putting my points across on the TV debate that went into a different track, let me share with you what is happening between social media and the common Indian. There are almost 13 crore Facebook users in India; and almost 10 crore Indians on Whatsapp. And I am sure over 99% of these netizens are not using it to spread religious hatred or pornography but for sharing entertainment, gaining knowledge, and doing business. Unbelievable student collaboration for school projects is happening here; semi literate plumbers and electricians are sharing designs with their clients. And its growing by the day.
But this does not take away service provider’s and the government’s responsibility that these fantastic tools and platforms become cancerous.