In this blogpost, Komal Rastogi, Student, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, writes about the misuse remedies and also the consequences of social media in India.
From the past six to seven years, Social Media have become increasingly popular in our day to day lives. It provides a forum not only to the students but also to the businessman where they can communicate with each other irrespective of the distance that separates them. “The “social” part refers to interacting with other people by sharing information with them and receiving information from them. The “media” part refers to an instrument of communication, like the internet.” From these two separate terms, we can pull out the definition of social media. Social Media is a phrase dealt with the collection of online communication channels that enables people to interact, share and exchange information, pictures, videos, etc. through the virtual networks. To be precise, social media connects people regardless of the geographical boundaries. It ties an individual with the different people of different cultures. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, have created online communities where people can share their personal information as they desire. Other websites like Digg, Reddit, makes it easier to find specific information, images etc. Earlier social media was the platform to learn about their countries or to maintain certain relationships. But now social media becomes a medium to share information or to communicate with a blink of an eye. For example Facebook- purpose is to help an individual communicate. Social media has influenced our lives. Due to social media, people have an opportunity to express their opinions to others through a common medium.
Social media can be used for many reasons. First, people can interact and communicate to others. Second, to gain or to provide knowledge about issues, events through different sites. By now it is clear that social media has a tremendous impact on our business, culture, and also the world at large. “Social media websites are some of the most popular haunts on the Internet. They have revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize on the Web.” The constant use of this kind of technology is harmful to us because it is limiting ourselves to only one group of people who are not friends but are supposed to be friends. The social media is not only affecting the people but also affecting the politics, business as well as cyberbullying in a negative sense.
Misuse of Social Media
In spite of the fact that social media is a great tool for information but have been misused by people at large. This technology is doing more harm than good. Social media is not only misused or abused by students but are also by businessmen, employees, etc. While talking about the abuse, politics comes into mind. Social media is as prone to misuse as your computer is to the virus.” Justice Katju stated in the letter to the broadcasting ministry that a new practice has been started to defame people, community, religion, etc. through social media.
Some misuses that are associated with the social media are:
- Defamation: The most affected people through social media are politicians and celebrities. They are the breed which has been punished brutally by social media. People got another medium to express their anger and to defame them through tweeting or by other social networking sites. The click of the like button on the Facebook can lead your action as absurd, and this can make you liable for the crime of social media abuse.
- False and unreliable information: Apart from defamation, there is increasing misuse of the social networking sites. People make fake email accounts of celebrities and spread untrue stories about them. In fact, people hack the accounts of different users at homes and “accessing the private life of others, leading to the relationship woes and divorce.”
- Sexual Predators: The social media is an open door to predators, it means that through social media, an individual can do anything to harm others. For example, the most common scenario when a man of 42 years make an email account using fake name and picture of 16 years old boy, communicate to others and ask them to meet in person. Due to this kind of predators, many of the children are victims of online sexual solicitation. Other than sexual predators, there is another kind of social abuse that is cyber bullying.
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is the act of bullying by harming or harassing using electronic technology. There are many ways of cyber bullying but the most common way to bully a person is to add users to the bullies account and begins to bully in the way of harassing the user through teasing, derogatory remarks, etc. The other way to bully a person is to write defamatory remarks on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. bullies on the internet are less likely to get into trouble as there can be fake name and picture on the bullies on the playground.
- Loss of Privacy: Social media can easily be misused by employees. The employees make awful remarks and post inappropriate material in anger if the employer is over-react and dismiss the employees. Even the employees’ comments damage the reputation of the company so disciplinary action can be taken against the employees for the breach of social media policy. When it is clear that the employers are becoming aware of these situations, then it is not possible for the employees to complain that the material was private and is infringing their right to privacy. The survey was held, and it showed the area where misuse of social media had taken place:
Firstly, misuse of confidential information (80%)
Secondly, misrepresenting views of the employer (71%)
Thirdly, inappropriate non-business use (67%)
Fourthly, disparaging remarks about the employers or other employees (64%)
Fifthly, harassment (64%)
- Fraud: Another consequence of the misuse of social media can be buying a product which does not exist. The recent example of such a misuse was the smartphone named Freedom 251. Many people bought the phone online and later found out that the company was fraud and does not exist in real.
Further, in 2012, the misuse of social media came to the attention of government when the morphed videos and picture of an earthquake began to go viral. “Miscreants were morphing these images to show that these were Muslim victims of civil riots in Assam and Burma.” This was done to provoke the riots by vested interest. This provocation leads to hate and revenge messages against Hindu Migrants.
Another effect of the misuse of social media is that even the minors have easy access to all types of porn sites which results in the rapid change of behavior in the young generation.
Remedies for the misuse of social media
Remedy: “You can report to the Cyber Crime department if you have a case which is related to Cyberstalking, cyber harassment, Online harassment, unsolicited calls, pornographic MMS, online fraud, phishing, or even threat mails.” Toll-free number for Indian Cyber Crime: 1800 209 6789
Due to misuse of social media, it leads to many consequences:
- Future can be affected: When one posts something online it will be there forever, if one is planning to go to a college, it may be possible that the college authorities may access to your account, if they don’t like it they may hold back from accepting.
- Writing down all your personal information on social networking sites will be dangerous because it can be used against you as people may stalk you and blackmail you.
- The misuse of social media can lead to hampering the security of a country. One can hack the security system of any country and can take and leak any secret information of that country. Example: Edward Snowden gave all the secret information of America to Russia.
The use of social media is growing day by day. Now it is important to keep the pace with the rapidly changing society. Even today the society is not prepared to bear the consequences of the misuse of social media which will result in the unacceptable and unfamiliar social behavior. “If there are no regulations or limitations on social media, the repercussions will accumulate. People need to change the destructive patterns of social media use before it destroys society.”
Nowadays one of the main reason for increasing the gap between older generation and the younger generation is social media. “The power it has over people is dangerous and often goes unnoticed. People should care because if not addressed, or taken care; social media could cause national and international problems.” Social media can help us, but it can blind us also. So turn off the account and leave the world behind and look up for your future.
LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:
 Retrieved on http://webtrends.about.com/od/web20/a/social-media.htm
 Retrieved on http://www.business2community.com/social-media/impact-social-media-truly-society-0974685#y6q7uz5K7jo15AMH.99
 Retrieved on http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/the-use-and-misuse-of-social-media/77/35886/
 Retrieved on http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/society/undue-use-and-misue-of-social-media
 Retrieved on http://scamsters.blogspot.in/2008/07/report-online-fraud-at-indian-cyber_10.html