If this were any other day before the recent events in social media in Pune, anyone would have been criticised for writing such an article. The rising awareness of the world wide web and social media as more than just fun and games is gaining momentum and with time they are being looked at as hidden treasures as well as threats.
In fact, I myself do not agree with the social media ‘menace’ as India recently witnessed a revolution in the way social technologies were deployed to decide the fate of these elections. However, in today’s well connected wireless world, we live in rapidly changing times, and in India even a couple of days are more than enough to spark a debate or protest on a nationwide scale.
Probably the most well-known social networking bits of gossip hitting systems today are: Celebrity Death (Jackie Chan), rumours (about riots, unrest), chain mails (spiritual gurus), falsities about social network (e.g Whatsapp charging its subscribers). These ‘Social Experiments’ spread a rumour like a bush-fire and in hours or days goes viral on internet, social media has a deep impact.
Recently, there were some pictures going viral on social media about the ‘first ever lesbian wedding in Pune’, when investigated it was found the pictures were of American girls. But the pictures did their job very well, by creating a sensation about ‘what’s happening in Pune’.
In another instance some derogatory posts on the social networking sites on iconic figures in Indian politics, sparked dalit riots in several places in the state. This led to unrest in the city, thereby causing lot of disruption in the daily life of the citizens and loss in terms of public property to the state government.
It’s not really funny when such incidents result into ‘bloody effects’ of such outrage. A Pune-based young boy Nikhil Tikone was assaulted and rage messages spread through Whatsapp and on web stating he is ‘Nihal Khan’ who posted derogatory pictures of Maharashtrian historic personalities on Facebook. To counter the situation, Nikhil Tikone uploaded his video with help from friends, saying he is a Hindu and has not created the controversial Facebook posts.
This is a serious concern for a society at large and we all have a role to play by using (and not mis-using) social media tools with a greater responsibility. Devising an innovative way to beat the rising menace of social media and cybercrime in spreading communal tensions, Film & Television Institute (FTI) has decided to help the cops with some impactful videos on ‘The Social Media Menace’. City police have decided to use the same social media to reach out and create awareness. The message on and by social media is Loud and Clear – you can love me or you can hate me, but you simply can’t ignore me.