12 Aug 2019
GS Paper 1
Critically examine the impact that the advent of social media has had on Indian society. (250 words)
- Briefly describe about social media in introduction.
- Give its positive and negative impacts on society.
- Mention the recent social media campaigns and their consequences on society.
- Conclude by giving steps that government should take to regulate social media.
Social media plays an integral role in our lives today and has a huge bearing on society and individuals. Social media has revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize. It has become a new way of life for the 21st century generation.
Some of the impacts of social media on society are:
- Social Benefits:
- Platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp give opportunity to people to connect and socialize in digital way. It helps to connect people with similar interests in diverse fields like art, literature, sports, etc, thereby promoting social cohesion.
- Platforms like LinkedIn provides opportunity for people to create business connections and helps companies recruit talented youth.
- Administrative ease:
- Many e-Governance initiatives have been made possible by citizen participation through the use of social media. Ex: ‘Tere Mere Beach Me’ of Kerala to clean beaches.
- Government is obliged for quick redressal of grievances due to its transparent and wide reach. For Ex: Grievances related to food quality, cleanliness in Railways reported through Twitter are resolved immediately.
- Economic Benefits: It has opened new avenues for digital marketing by companies to sell their products and services online. It has also created opportunities for traders and retailers of tier-II and tier-III cities to better marketing and compete with MNCs.
- Political Benefits: It helps in mobilizing people and interest articulation by political parties. Independent candidates without much money and muscle power can run political campaigns through social media.
- Other benefits: Social media platforms can be used for awareness generation, disaster relief, crowd funding for a social cause, etc
However, due to improper use of social media can have disastrous consequences for society. Some of its negative impacts are:
- Spread of fake news: Social media platforms are being used for spreading rumors, communal hatred, inciting mob-lynching, and even internet fraud.
- Privacy Breach: Government lacks control on companies operating from foreign countries who leak user data for monetary benefits.
- The recent case of Face App manipulating user data with complex terms and conditions is a case in point. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica case shows the inadequacies in regulating these companies.
- Health problems: Research shows that disconnect with the real world outside leads to negative health impacts like obesity, depression, anxiety, suicides, etc.
- Women facing trolling, cyber bullying, online abuse is a disturbing reality of social media.
Social media is a double-edged sword. It has its own benefits but if misused, can disturb the social fabric of society. It is not only the government's duty to regulate it but the onus lies on civil society to be more aware and inquisitive about any illicit use.
Even the social media companies are coming forward to launch campaigns to make users more aware. For ex: WhatsApp launched ‘Share Joy Not Rumours’ to prevent the spread of fake news, Facebook launched #SocialForGood campaign to address issues such as cyber bullying, mental wellbeing, etc.