Every time there is some untoward incident in some corner of the country, or some flare-up which goes out of control (mostly owing to state action or inaction), the social media is the favorite whipping boy of the powers that be, the opposition, and surprisingly, the media which feeds itself from the social media like no one else does,
The latest communal flare up in Muzzafarabad, in Uttar Pradesh, India has come as no exception to this trend.
With unanimity, most government officials, including the Home secretary of the state, and many other leaders of the ruling party blamed the social media squarely.
Its surprising that every time some this of this sort happens, no one wishes to see this fact – Social media can only be an amplifier. It cannot substitute the reality of the ground situation.
Not just that – Social media is one great leveler, a real democracy where everyone wields the same power.
So, rather than blame social media, it is much easier for the state/center also to get into it, be in it, and take the so called adversaries and rumor mongers head on – this if done effectively, will counter facts real-time.
Its much easier to wait for issues to get out of hand and then, as a post mortem blame the media conveniently.
This is not the first time it has happened. Earlier there were incidents in the southern state of Karnataka, where in rumors led almost to the exodus of North East Indians, and then too, the role of social media came under the lens.
Given the complexity of the Indian polity, and the fact that social media might be a contributor to the menace of rumor mongering, it is only fair that the state/central governments get their act to suggest people representatives and bureaucrats stay active on this media, and address issues real-time.
When this happens, the chance that the state’s point of view is communicated and amplified real-time is very high. Rumors can be quelled, and the peddlers of rumors, if at all any, can be shamed with facts.
This is also an easier route than just deploying resources in monitoring and taking action on those who are seen to be acting against the facts.
With this in mind, is it time that the Indian government thinks of forming a cadre of “Chief social media officers” with people drawn from the Indian administrative service??
Having a set of elite officers in charge of this fast paced, real-time, and ever changing media, will only serve disseminating information, quickly, and stay in charge of any conversation that affects peace and tranquility.
Is it time for “Chief social media officers” in India? What say??
- UP Home Secretary Blames Social Media And Messaging Apps For Spreading Rumours About UP Riots (business2community.com)
- New media presents scope for misuse: Tewari (thehindu.com)
- Social media rife with inflammatory materials in Muzaffarnagar (thehindu.com)
- Tweets from the beat – the changing face of policing (solihullupdates.com)