Censorship for social media

Ravi Nair/Dubai
Filed on April 18, 2018

The reach of social media is more than any other form of media today. But, there is no censorship.

New developments need new policies. We have some or the other kind of censorship in all media today, be it newspapers, television news, movies and even posters and billboards on the road. There is a valid and well thought out reason behind it. Most of the people believe what gets reported without putting any second thoughts on it. So it is possible that people's reactions are directed in a certain way by the media and that is exactly the reason why censorship exists.

Now look at social media. The reach of social media is more than any other form of media today. But, there is no censorship. Anybody is allowed to post anything whether it is true or false, good or bad. No controls exist, no questions are asked and there is zero accountability. Are we surprised then by what happened in the Cambridge Analytica case? The way people reacted to the Kathua and Asifa rape cases in India? Weren't these bound to happen?

All the social media today started from person to person communication and then it slowly extended further through the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter. Before we could even realise, all of them suddenly became more widely spread than the mainstream media itself. The speed at which it spread did not allow the legal machinery to keep pace with it. But, do we want to keep it that way?

Getting Zuckerberg to answer questions by Congress is hardly enough as can be seen clearly from the outcomes. There has to be a clear method for censorship on these social media. The companies running them cannot be trusted to self control because all said and done they are "for profit" organisations and nothing is more important to them than shareholder value.

But how do you control this, given the enormous volume at which data, images, text, tweets are posted every minute? The answer lies in technology itself. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to design programmes that can apply policies to censor posts before they are posted. Government has to fund these projects and develop such technology. Only then can we hope for a better world where true, sensible and useful information is spread through social media.

Ultimately everything runs on trust. Think about it. - Ravi Nair, Dubai

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