Welcome to the world of New Media where the reach is endless and physical boundaries have no meaning. There is full freedom of expression and it is difficult to even pinpoint who said what. Many countries have tried to harness the New Media but failed. Even China is facing hurdles in blocking the web information.
So far only six countries have tried blocking the Social Media, namely Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, China, Vietnam and North Korea. North Korea is the only country completely banning Social Media.
Social Media became important in India only a few years ago when the Anna Hazare moment was started, where millions of youth exchanged ideologies of the old Ex-Serviceman to clean Indian Politics. Taking a cue from this moment, Narendra Modi started his Lok Sabha election campaign using emails, Twitter, Facebook and other social media trying to connect with the masses. BJP’s massive victory in the elections is attributed only to Social Media. However, Social media’s volatility came in lime light immediately after that when Delhi State Assembly elections took place where Kejriwal took over from Modi on Social Media and clean sweeped the elections.
Hence, where the Social Media is considered very powerful, its volatility can also be ignored. Its effect is instant and it may not last long. The reason for this is that it is explosive. The noise is too much to be ignored but does not last long. It dies down with the next explosion on a different front. Regulating the Social Media is thus, extremely difficult. Content uploaded on the net is by billions of people from all over the world.
Recently the government tried to muzzle the social media messaging apps by introducing a draft policy on encryption of internet traffic including social media applications like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram etc. The department of Telecom uploaded Draft National Encryption Policy on 21 September 2015 in the evening. The government’s plan was to access all encrypted information, including personal emails, messages on WhatsApp or even data stored on a private business server. The government proposed that for at least 90 days, web and net users should make these available to security agencies if required, in text form. It also wanted everyone to hand over their encryption keys to the government. The very next day the government had to backtrack as there was a massive protest on the internet against the policy. Telecom Minister Ravishankar Prasad had to announce a withdrawal of the draft policy saying the government would place it in public domain again after reworking some of the “expressions” that were giving rise to “misgivings”.
In a similar attempt on curbing Net Neutrality at the behest of large telecom companies, TRAI had issued a consultation that was withdrawn later because the protest response came from millions, not only from India but throughout the world.
In March 2015, TRAI issued a consultation paper to regulate over the top services ( OTT), comments from the stakeholders were asked by June 2015 however, no recommendations have come forth after that.
In a similar attempt porn websites came under the lens of the government. A government order dated 31 July 2015 asked ISPs to block over 850 websites. The government’s move though, appears to have found cover under the Supreme Court’s observation that little had been done to prevent child pornography, which is illegal, from being accessed on the web. While the government initially denied any such move, The Times of India, quoting government sources, has reported that the denial of access was a temporary one, and more of a prelude to the creation of a regular regulatory oversight. However, Internet Service Providers (ISP) have expressed their apprehension, saying it is virtually impossible to ban porn websites given that servers hosting these sites were outside the country. Moreover, the government’s list of 857 websites is too small a number given that there are millions of porn websites on the web, a number growing by the day. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team claims there are more than 40 million porn websites around the world and most of them operate outside India from locations where porn is legal. Many such moves to ban certain websites fail as people find their way through proxy servers.
Social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. Social media is defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content."
Social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses, organizations, communities, and individuals.
Social media is a very powerful medium. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp have become very important tools to express more sentiment, business communications and other areas. It creates an immediate fan following or criticism of one’s expression. Like our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address at Facebook Headquarters in the US that ‘ Social Media’ has brought all the people of different nations closer.
Last month during his visit to the Facebook headquarters in the US, our PM, Narendra Modi said explaining the impact of Social Media, “Social media was like a "guide" and an easy textbook to know about things for me. It helped mould my thought process. Build a world consciousness and it helped the world accept me for what I am. Social media has helped people recognise and accept me for what I am. When I took office .. I realised that there was a large gap between people and govt. By the time one gets to realise this, elections come up! But social media allows for accountability instantly. I ask all world leaders not to avoid social media and to connect to it. If governments are alert and conscious about real time accountability. It will be good for democracy. Social media helps here and has allowed for connecting people among different countries rather than just the capitals.”
Today, no one can ignore social media. Be it a government, an industry, a business house or an individual, Social Media can help each and everyone in more than one ways. You can create businesses, do marketing, make friends, get medical advice, find a job; practically everything that one can imagine.