This is a course blog for the classes on digital government and social media in the public sector" class taught by Professor Ines Mergel at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. The blog posts include comments and ideas from MPA, MAIR and EMPA students studying the use of new technologies in the public sector.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
SOCIAL MEDIA: A CHALLENGE TO BECOME EFFECTIVE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
This blog I am writing after attending the today's Nigeria Guest lecture " Bring back our Girls". In this blog I have tried to bring certain facts about Social Media challenges in India.
Somebody in India rightly commented
“If social media was present during the days of Rani Lakshmi Bai and Mangal
Pandey, India would have become a free country much before 1947”. I couldn’t
agree more! Social media has taken this world by storm. Like all other
technological advancements till date, you can use, misuse or abuse social
media. The rules are new, and the ones waging this war are people like me and
Think of abuse, and for some reason politicians come to mind. They are
one breed which has brutally been punished by social media. Mudslinging has got
a new medium, and people are venting all their wrath and anger by blasting off
tweet after tweet, mocking every aspect of these servants of society.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi became the victim of what was an incident that
could have easily got brushed under the carpet had it not been for the social
media. You can’t call up everybody on Twitter and ask them to stop tweeting,
can you? One leaked video on YouTube was followed by thousands of angry, funny,
shameless, derogatory tweets, which eventually led to other media also talking
about the episode. Finally a pressurised Singhvi quit all party posts. No
wonder, Government of India has been after Google and Facebook to ‘censor content’
and make the web clean. Maybe he saw incidents like these coming?
Social media is as prone to misuse as your computer is to virus. Justice
Katju said in a letter “a new practice has developed in the social media, of
its misuse for defaming people/groups/religions/communities.” While he was
focusing on the larger issue of defamation, there is increasing misuse at all
levels and growing concern over the same.
Celebrity fake accounts are being made and untrue stories about them are
being spread. ‘Hacking at home’ has led to stealing of passwords and accessing
the private lives of others, leading to relationship woes and even divorces. A
survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that four
out of five lawyers reported a growing number of divorce cases that cited
evidence derived from networking sites.
Till a few years ago, the
Jessica Lal murder case was the only example of the media playing a central
role in keeping a case alive and doing its best to bring justice. Ever since
social media came around, there have been many more people and cases whose
battles are being fought in the courts of law because the layman raised a voice
on social media. Deaths of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes stunned
Mumbaikars and the entire cyberspace. The case was
fast tracked and the four accused were booked after the social media raised a
Social good is difficult
to spread because it has no commercial value. Smaller social organisations used
to falter at the task of apprising other people of their work and making people
contribute. With Facebook and Twitter, NGOs could breathe a sigh of relief.
Many unknown social organisations today have a sizeable following on social
networks. Their work doesn’t go unnoticed anymore, and in fact attracts the
appreciation and attention of people.
Regular attempts at
curbing the freedom of the social media will be made, but the truth is that it
is leading us towards a new world where the lies will be trashed and the guilty
will be charged. It will not happen overnight but change has begun and it is
for the good.