Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Social Media : Effects on Govt. Policy Implementation

The recent furore over the  banning of a Documentary made by a British film maker about a grisly rape in India ("India's Daughter") has taken a curious turn because of Social Media.

  • The movie was made about an incident which happened on December, 2012 in which  a women was brutally raped and who finally succumbed to the injuries.
  • The filmmaker included interviews of the rapist( on the death row and lodged in Jail) in which he justified his actions and put the blame on the women. Further, derogatory statements about women made by  the advocates defending the rapist were also found offensive by many.
  • It gave rise to a big agitation all over the country as some claimed that screening such a movie would embolden future rapists and demean women.
  • Others cite that such bans would deprive the people of the country a healthy debate and a chance for changing their mindset and anyway gagging of media is always a bad precedent.
  • A Court of Law  banned the movie in India on March 4th citing that it can potentially cause unrest and social agitations.
  • The Government has been trying to implement the ban imposed by the Court but it is becoming difficult to impossible.
  • The Indian Government asked BBC not to screen the movie which was scheduled for the International Women's Day on March 8th , the BBC brought forward the screening to March 5th and went ahead with its screening.
  • Indian Government asked YouTube to block the documentary and the company agreed to do so in India but with a delay.
  • The original link to the movie remained available for a long time on the BBC's website.
  • In the mean time it went viral on Social Media.
  • The film has already been viewed more than 100,000 times from that link. Facebook has 14,235 likes for "#IndiasDaughter"
  • Viewings from other multiple user uploading on the Youtube have also been difficult to block.
  • The Government is facing a challenge to identify and then remove links to the film "India's Daughter" from various social media as stated by Kuldeep Dhatwalia, a spokesman of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The Government has created  a working group of officials from the Ministries overseeing broadcasting, Law, Information Technology and External Affairs to find out  suitable ways of implementing the ban.
  • Some people are criticizing the ban stating that it creates a "Streisand Effect" named after Hollywood actress Barbara Streisand's efforts to suppress an aerial photo of her home which failed. It seems banning only stokes interest in such films and invites more viewers. 
  • Shekhar Gupta a known journalist (India Today) has commented that the Government of India is the "best promoter of the rape documentary".
  • The existence of social media points out the difficulties in such ban orders. Lawrence Liang a Lawyer specialising in technology and copyright infringement laws based in Bangalore, India says that blocking websites is much simpler than blocking innumerable links, he says "How can you block YouTube?".

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