It is said that if a person breaks wind on social media, a whole bunch of people queue outside the loo! The medium is that viral!
The final arbiter of what is permissible on social media, the cherubic Satyawadi Kapilchandra who displayed brilliant mathematical abilities when he arrived at the famous zero sum loss, in all his wisdom has scored a self- goal. Well, allegedly his goddess was ridiculed in a cartoon which depicted her as the puppeteer. No points for guessing who the puppet was. Hence the minister in typical Inspector Clouseau clumsiness is all set to introduce new set of rules to monitor internet content. This hasty move has the whole world searching for his goddess on Facebook, to see what offends him. He of all the people should know that if one needs to popularize something, the best way is to ban it.
There are three main questions to moot. Firstly, it is imperative to gauge the intent of the government. What has upset most netizens is the way they have gone about it - summoning Face book officials in a clandestine manner.
Second question remains, who decides what is objectionable? For China statements from Dalai Lama could be objectionable and for Pakistan statements from the Shiv Sena. All sane netizens however, will support some sort of regulation or screening of morphed pictures which are in bad taste and unwarranted. Also, no one is denying the fact that content which offends religious sensibilities and threatens national security should be screened and monitored. I guess, it is already being done. Even in Thailand, Google restricted access to 90% of 225 You Tube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy, which is against the Thai laws. However, in India Google mainly received requests to remove blogs and videos that were critical of ministers and government officials.
Having said that, Kapil Muni should have been upfront and said, “My leader has been insulted and slanderous content about her should be removed.” Instead, in all his sanctimonious wisdom he said, “We will not allow our cultural ethos to suffer….we have to take care of the sensibilities of the people.” Why is the cherubic telecom angel wielding the moral danda? Wasn’t moral policing the job of the BJP? Why bring religion in the debate?
And finally, it is humanly impossible to pre-screen content coming from 2.5 million Indian users on Facebook. Ankit Fadia, the computer hacker says that there is no technology which can detect sarcasm or monitor cartoons. Also, anyone sitting in a remote island can still use the internet for dubious purposes.
Social media is one big adda, like the erstwhile paan ki dukaan, where people air opinions and vent frustration. It is not to be taken seriously by powerful egos. Offensive comments are to be ignored. If they still persist, people can block them and report abuse. Finally the IT act of 2000 is in place for filing police complaints against the tormentor. Any complaint under the act should be strictly dealt with. It will act as a deterrent for anonymous abuse and hate groups. Here is another thing about internet; it is a hydra headed monster. You cut one of its arms; it grows another. So it is imperative to learn to manage it. To your advantage. If you suppress it, it emerges with double the vengeance.
It was Obama who said that suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. Yet I feel ‘freedom’ is so much easier to preach than practice. Obama learnt it the hard way, after the Wiki leaks episode.So my humble request to the venerable minister is to allow me to break some wind on my status and blog. It is cathartic. It cures flatulence brewing against corruption and mis-governance. In fact he should try it. Achha lagega.
(I hope the Dabang minister does not say , " Hum tumahare mein itne ched kar denge......)