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Authoritarianism on Social Networking Content?

INDIA IS A DEMOCRATIC NATION. Maybe this is the first sentence that every Indian citizen would say to describe the country. In old school sense, it is true. The leaders who made our Constitution kept this in mind in every law they made and every amendment that they still do.

However, over the last few months and especially during the last week my doubts on our strength as a democratic nation began to gather strength (sic). I have been reading about matter that makes me think of my freedom – because I believe that people sitting on their luxury chairs in Delhi are now restless. They have witnessed the Anna Hazare movement, which to an extent gathered nationwide strength and global patronage through activities on the Social Networking sites. They also beheld the anger in people, which was expressed through online journals against Kalmadi and the façade around the issues surrounding the Common Wealth Games misadventure.

Maybe they thought that how we, the same imprudent ‘junta’ who elected them, crowned them, let them run our nation, ruin our nation; are now so vigilant and vocal especially through Social Networking. Maybe, we, the people, broke their sweet dream of a ‘Five Year Plan (a.k.a ‘F.Y.P’, Fool Your People) where whatever they do goes unpunished, unpublished and ignored. Furthermore, they go at all lengths to justify that it is not their fault – they are innocent.

It is us who knowingly or un-knowingly permitted them believe that since we do not judge when we vote, so we won’t say anything. Aha!, we also gave them the impression that the websites like Facebook and Twitter are just the playground for teens where we go to add friends and to have fun. Nevertheless, one fine morning, when they realized ‘Oh my God! What are these people up-to’, they appointed their best man, Kapil Sibal to present a solution, and voila, he grouped up authorities from Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Twitter and said very humbly “I respect FREEDOM OF SPEECH, but I don’t want to demolish our cultural status and discipline, so I want to screen all that goes online”. Wow! Checkmate?.

Just few questions for Kapil Sibal that came to my mind. Where is the moral when you kill a female foetus? Where is the discipline when Kalmadi does such a scam and nearly gets out? Where is the democracy where we still have to bear such a lame system for 5 long years? Where is the humanity when nearly 2 out of 10 people sleep without having a decent meal? Why the cases that include politicians, viz. the ‘Bhanwari Devi’ case, takes so long to come to a conclusion?

It was said that the images and statements on social media sites risked fanning tensions in India, which has a long history of deadly religious violence”, then let me remind our leaders that history also has tales of the Ayodhya Kand, Riots in Gujrat, Charaa-Ghotala, and many more and plus the fact that at that time Social Networking was not so wide spread in India. Then why don’t you come up with solutions to address the root cause of those burning issues like those mentioned above instead of monitoring people on such platforms like the Social Networking sites?

Here, I am not taking sides of people who post offensive material. There is ‘smart-window’ of deciding what is offensive, and what is not. According to a majority, offensive content means the content which is disrespectful and hurts someone’s feelings, whereas the content that shows the real side of a story is not offensive. Your intention seems to be banning social life and not just screening it. Online netizens also need to be converted to puppets?

We are free. We were free. And we always will be. The acts / statements / decisions like this shows us that we are the one responsible for it, because we are the one who chose them to rule, and many of us don’t even care to participate in voting, or polls or any movements, thereby this is the result we get. So at the end, I can only pray that it would be best if Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Twitter would end their services in India instead of screening the content, because that way our leaders would know the importance of Internet.

As it goes…

‘apni azzadi ko hum, hargiz bhoola sakte nahin’

‘sar kataa sakte hain, lekin sar jhukaa sakte nahin !!!’

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  1. Parth Singh Saini says

    Article is somewhat immature…
    Secondly, even a 5th grade student knows that its very important to put things appropriately.
    If government is seeking some way to ask these sites to prevent displaying offensive material(what is offensive what is not is definitely a matter of debate), then whats wrong in it !!!
    Prevention is always better than cure. Instead of reporting something and then getting it removed from the social site is quite a lame process.
    FYI: Govt is not screening anything(govt can never have this tech). In fact it is asking these sites to find someway that will prevent things before their uploading.
    Also, freedom is out right, but with our fundamental rights,we have FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES as well…
    And before someone make any comment on my comment, I will repeat this thing again: “whats offensive and whats not offensive is subject of debate” ..

  2. vajrasar says

    Yes, you are right that the main concern of government should be to define the meaning of OFFENSIVE. But then why Mr. Sibbal asked Facebook, Yahoo, Google and others to screen the content, instead of giving them the proper definition of what is Offensive according to Government. And mainly, Mr. Sibbal said that He came across various content online which shows offensive pics and improper subjects related to politicians from ruling party. Now, everybody knows that some posts made online are improper, but every user have right to report against that kind of image or post, then why don’t anybody report it. Because at many occasions it shows the real side of the story.
    Now, as I said in the article also, am not taking any sides here, some mischievous guys always tries to demolish the peace by online means, but it’s wholly on an individual to be affected by such content.
    All I believe is, there should be some platform where an Individual can have his ‘Freedom Of Speech’ and social platforms provide that means. So there should not be any screening or any kind of ban.
    If politicians can’t ban there fellow mates from doing scandals, can’t run the country as they are supposed to, then they do not have any right to STOP the gossips, posts and content against them.

  3. Parth Singh Saini says

    I agree with your point… The “line” plays an important role..
    Also, neither govt. nor social networking sites work on what Sibbal says..

    Govt. documents, discussion , ministry, so many things are involved while deriving laws… So we shouldnt jump on any conclusion, rather should wait and watch how things are going.. And if there is something unacceptable, then we should definitely protest…

  4. anon says

    Kids these days. :(

    Just because something is “offensive” to some people, doesn’t mean it should be illegal. That’s what the freedom of speech means. Law is not the solution for everything and once you starting banning speech, the society is not far from taliban.

    If you don’t like it, don’t read it. You have no right to stop others from speaking. You have the right to not listen to them.

    And this blog is disappointing. Few days back you were supporting ban on FB posts because it “hurts religious sentiments” and now you want “freedom of speech”. Have a spine, kids and stand up for our right. There will always be someone who might take offense at anything you say. And you should tell them to go take a hike.

  5. Parth Singh Saini says

    and how would you deal your spoofed naked pic.. Tell me you would be comfortable with it as well…

  6. anon says

    That offense is covered under privacy protection laws, not defamation. Similarly, incorrect facts are prevented by libel laws. However, insult, by itself, is not and should not be banned by any laws. You can call me an asshole, and there should be no law against it.

    Courts have clear cut separation of various forms of injuries. All you need to do is read about it. Most genuine offenses are already covered under well-understood and enforced laws. But the new trend is to ban every speech or opinion that you disagree with. That’s what I am against because difference of opinion is the fundamental bedrock of democracy. Once you ban speech, you have stuck a knife in the gut of democracy. All that remains then is a final twist by the next tyrant to come along.

    We shouldn’t care if someone’s sentiments are hurt by just reading something different to his beliefs. That’s how most “learning” happens. :)

  7. anon says

    That’s covered under privacy laws. Similarly, incorrect facts are covered under libel laws. False advertising is covered under fraud protection. No defamation laws are needed. Insult, by itself, should be protected speech just like any other speech. Even stupid speech should be protected. You can call me an asshole and there should be no law against it.

    Courts have very clear cut definitions for different form of injuries. All you need to do is read about it. What I am against is this new trend to ban any speech or opinion that differs from our own beliefs. Once you ban speech, you have stuck a knife in the gut of democracy. All that remains for the next tyrant to come along is to twist it.

    We shouldn’t care if someone’s “sentiments are hurt” because of some speech. No real “injury” is caused by speech. When you suppress harsh opinions, you also suppress dissent. Difference of opinions is the fundamental bedrock of a democracy. This is how learning happens. This is how truth is discovered. Protecting sentiments is not worth losing disagreement, discourse and truth.

    Please get my point. I am not saying that all speech is good. I am only saying that it’s not the business of law to prevent “bad” speech. Law is forceful action and therefore banning speech will cause more harm than you think.

    I have no hope though. India’s on the way to become an extremist society, no different than stone age societies of the middle east and taliban. Now I just hope that the process will be slow and I am dead long before that happens.

  8. vajrasar says

    @anon, The thing you said that you are disappointed by this article because you think I (writer of the content) supported Banning images on FB earlier, then that is wrong. I would never favor such act, because I know that a person sitting on a social portal should at least have the IQ that who is trying to portray what message through an image or post. And it’s totally in our hands to be hurt our feelings by it.

    @parth, I think if someone posts any abusive or inappropriate pic or comment about an individual, then that individual have full right on every social portal service to initiate a block or to report abuse to that content.

    Being in the social world, we all should know social etiquette and should also be aware to protect our individuality and prestige. It’s in our hands, blaming someone else, or asking for a ban or screen is not appropriate.

  9. Krati says

    Lots of discussion :) I was missing it on UT..
    I would only like to add, Government intervene in filtration of social media content came only when they started getting open viewpoints of v “common” people. It clearly depicts biased and feared outcome of political parties over social media. If it is to be banned, then open the platform we can give several other reasons to be banned off. Government is no lesser acting as communists!!!

    • No offense says

      Amazing amount of discussion :) I was missing it on UT.
      I would only like to add, government’s intervention in filtration of social media content came only when they started getting open viewpoints of us- the “common” people. It clearly depicts biased and feared outcome of political parties over social media. If it (social media) is to be banned, ?? (then open the platform we can give several other reasons to be banned off)??. Government is no lesser in acting as communists!

      Best Regards.


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