Our lives today are as much about our physical being as they are about our data. The only difference is that while we are conscious of our physical lives, we are seldom aware of how our data is being used by its custodians, which may not necessarily be a government but could very well be a multinational company based in a developed country.
Social media platforms, which have evolved into a public platforms, continue to lack oversight to protect freedom of speech and are driven by the whims and fancies of the platform owner.
Similarly Twitter has evolved into a very important social media platform in India that has a significant influence on the discourse in society and provides a channel for social debates and discussions as a microblogging site.
You will agree that today many platforms are treating their spaces as houses you can be invited to but get thrown out of at their will unceremoniously. The more data they collected on us over time, we are seeing the tables have turned.
With the new features this platform is ever evolving, but the platform is also colonizing the mind of Indian as exactly did by Macaulay vis-a-vis Twitter which, very frequently polarizes social environment and amid sharpening global rivalries and with this, it promotes severer westernization and that is very common and genuine fear is that the rampant westernization amongst Indians will lead to the gradual decline and eventual ruins of Indian culture and tradition.
The past months especially since the US presidential elections have presented to us a dystopian reality where what we get to see, who gets to voice their opinion and who stays on the platform and who doesn’t and who fits the right image as per policies of twitter and who doesn’t has all been pre-defined ready to be fed to the platform’s users who now don’t get to form an opinion of their own rather are made to align to a pre-existing one. The same platform let’s terror organizations like Al-qaeda and Hizbul Mujaihideen operate in name of freedom of expression while marking the constitutionally elected head of India that is our Pm’s tweet on Jayanti of Shivaji Maharaj as sensitive whereas it is self-evident all over India that a certain set of people who identify with a certain ideology only are able to voice their opinion freely whereas other’s who differ or disagree get shadow banned or taken down.
• Hence the new age Macaulay, that is Twitter, promotes the western ideology as exactly what Macaulay did through his self-assumed vision of civilizing the ignorant Indians and this has been the biggest misfortune that India has endured… Macaulay’s system of education has enslaved Indian mentality as he tried to capture the whole education system in India, and to some extent he succeeded, he tried to manipulate educational, political and even the commercial scenario of Indians,
• The same finds substance through what he wrote to his father in 1836 that is,
“Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully… The effect of this education on the Hindu’s is prodigious. No Hindu, who has received an English education, ever remains sincerely attached to his religion… It is my firm belief that, if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence …. I heartily rejoice in the prospect.”
And Twitter is also injecting this culture in India and colonizing the minds of our country’s young minds,
Except this what Twitter is exactly doing these days is promoting anti-national and hatred content without properly following guidelines provided by the government and Anti-national groups are making use of Twitter in spreading propaganda in the name of freedom of speech and expression and inciting Indian youth to join such activities,
Twitter has extraordinary reach particularly in the field of information sharing and dissemination. Since it does not require authentication for posting information so it helps them to hide identities.
“The objectionable information was appearing and disappearing regularly and dynamically,”
• A report submitted by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team states that a total of 362 incidents relating to posting propaganda was reported in last 3 years, very recently twitter promoted many hatred contents of some banned organization, the great terror groups like ISIS, al Queda, and Indian mujahidin use this platform to circulate hate speeches because it helps them to avoid detection, in India, there have been numerous examples when fake videos and hate messages were circulated through this platform.
And some are doing this activities in the name of a fundamental right that is freedom of speech and expression, irrespective of the fact that Article 19 also carries certain duties and responsibilities with right and the way you are using your right is maybe subjected to certain restrictions.
• Great visionary Dr Ambedkar, while discussing the Draft Constitution of India on the issues of freedom of speech, quoted a judgement of the US Supreme Court (Gitlow v New York) in justification of the limitation on the right of free speech.. he said and I quote:
“It is a fundamental principle, long established, that the freedom of speech , which is secured by the Constitution, does not confer an absolute right to speak or publish, without responsibility, whatever one may choose, or an unrestricted and unbridled license that gives immunity for every possible use of language and prevents the punishment of those who abuse this freedom.”
• As also said in the very landmark judgement Menaka Gandhi v. Union of India
“one can use their freedom of speech but with certain limits and person’s should be such that others’ rights should not be hindered or affected by the acts of one man.”
While twitter blames difference in laws and culture when asked to comply with Indian authorities and continues to act brashly as seen in the case of fact checkers who posted a fact check video to bust propaganda behind the police hitting innocent farmers which really wasn’t the case but the same was censored whereas those fact checkers inciting hate and hailing Khalistani agendas were not. But the platform which hails itself as the last bastion of free speech, which acts in a biased manner in India duly follows other countries on par with India and their stringent digital accountability policies be it Australia where
• non-expeditious removal of inappropriate content comes with a fine and even jail term for top executives of the platform and the strict digital compliance laws enhancing online safety created an eSafety Commissioner with the power to demand that social media companies take down harassing or abusive posts.
• The EU countries also introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which set rules on how companies, including social media platforms, store and use people’s data which invokes accountability even if the platform is not present in the continent but deals with citizen’s data and gives full control of the personal information to it’s citizens rather than the platforms, to the extent that social media platforms face fines if they do not delete extremist content within an hour.
While the governments of China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkmenistan have blocked access to Twitter in those countries.
Twitter has been blocked in China since March 2009 and remains blocked to this day. The block was imposed after a small group of China’s Muslim ethnic minority used the site to exchange information which resulted in deadly riots in Xinjiang.
And many other countries have proper laws and regulation to regulate the activities of social media like twitter-
So in India, this is a need of an hour that there should be a proper mechanism for the twitter so that it cannot promote fake and false propaganda and also should not colonize the minds of the youth.
Provisions of Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, allows the Centre to block public access to an intermediary “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence .
Twitter had blocked a total of 250 accounts on the request of the Ministry of Home Affairs and law enforcement agencies to prevent any escalation amid the ongoing farmers’ protest as they were making fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets” with hashtags accusing the Narendra Modi government of planning farmers “genocide”.
Hence the code of ethics which came into force on 25th Feb, 2021 is a step in the right direction as it seeks to establish a three tier regulation structure for inappropriate content and also lays the groundwork for the citizens to effectively initiate complaints under the same against inappropriate content whereas holds the social intermediaries liable to not regulating the same at the local level historically in the absence of any set parameters with regards to regulation of inappropriate content, social media intermediaries such as twitter have benefitted from accelerating and advertising paid content without any obligation as any other registered company functioning in India while at the same time bearing no liability towards the society’s sensibility as seen in the recently trending ‘Toolkit Case’ where foreign elements like Greta Thunberg and pro-khalistani organisation ‘poetic justice’ shared and further accelerated their agenda to destablise India whereas Climate activist Disha Ravi intends to
escape liability as they harp upon this freedom of speech and expression regulated not within the contours of Indian Constitution rather through platforms like twitter, whereas banned Khalistani outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ went a step further and announced prize money for desecrating Red Fort which we clearly saw as the events that unfolded on 26th Jan in the nation’s capital shook us all. The trend has been the same since the Delhi Riots just a year ago were there was no censor on communal agenda rather the same was infused through paid advertisement which one cannot disapprove falls exactly in line with Macaulay’s model of colonisation of the mind by raising loyal subjects brainwashed against their own sensibilities and doing so in the name of democratising the whole process and done by Macaulay centuries ago in name of democratising education and as done by twitter and the likes of it in democratising freedom. Hence invoking accountability against such unilateral system of perturbing the peace and harmony needs to be strengthened as the precedent suggests that by monetizing destabilization of the Indian society, people and platforms can walk away freely, this very notion needs to be reversed.
The same was strengthened
“A few days back in my case where Hon’ble Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Centre and Twitter on a plea, seeking to regulate hate content and to make a law as per which action can be initiated against Twitter and their representatives in India for willfully abetting and promoting anti-India tweets and penalize them.”
So, who controls the national discourse in the country, in an era where the discourse has rapidly moved to digital platforms, and specifically to a few very large digital monopolies like Twitter, none of which are Indian? Neither the platforms nor the promoters of the platforms are under any significant ambit of the law of the land, especially when it pertains to free speech. The national discourse is being adjudicated under the whims and fancies of overgrown foreign MNC’s. This is an assault on the sovereignty of the country if it is not following the proper mechanism led by the government.
There are again puerile counter-arguments that the government has no right to interfere with corporate business and the corporation has the right to run its business whichever way it wants, as long as it is abiding with whatever limited laws apply to it. However, there is something deeply wrong with such an argument. When the national discourse is running on such digital platforms, then how the platform conducts itself, is of significant importance to the government and the citizens. Imagine saying the same about television, magazines, and newspapers – whatever is being written or said in such media is their business matter and the government should not interfere. It would be disastrous for the nation. Similarly, the government abdicating the cyberspace and the discussions on cyberspace, especially on mediums that have evolved to become digital monopolies, and not have appropriate regulation to ensure the correct use of freedom of speech and responsible behavior of the platforms, with reasonable restriction will be disastrous.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to have even more relevant and much stricter regulations to protect the right of Indian citizens and to institutionalize an office of neutral adjudicators for social media platforms, where the countries sovereignty should not be upheld by these platforms and the democracy of the country would run smoothly without any distress, and the citizens will use their fundamental rights with proper duty and responsibility, and this social media platforms like Twitter will not be the second Macaulay.
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