Ethics & The Un-Social Media!
Social Media giants, like Facebook and Twitter, made a serious attempt to change their old position or image in 2019. They did so in order to regain the trust of the Netizens! It is because the tremendous popularity of the Social Media has faded a lot in the last couple of years, as they reportedly stole personal information and published fake news. Facebook, Twitter and Google have been experimenting with their marketing strategies for the last one year to regain the lost faith.
In November (2019), Twitter announced that it would not publish political advertisements! Although Google is yet to take such a drastic step, the US-based multinational technology company, too, has made some changes in its marketing policy. Facebook is the exception here, as the social media and technology company has made it clear that it would continue to publish political advertisements without verifying the facts! According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he believes in Freedom of Speech… and, he is not ready to compromise with his ideology! Zuckerberg also believes that no private organisation has the right to censor any news or views (of politicians) in Democracy. In other words, Facebook has no problem if politicians misuse the Freedom of Speech by providing false information to the Netizens through the Social Media network!
Facebook has no problem because it does not want to face financial losses, it seems. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has informed the press that Facebook will generate just 0.5% of its revenue from political advertisements in 2020! Therefore, they have no need not be wary of financial losses. If that is so… then, why Facebook is not ready to change its marketing strategy? Perhaps, it has no plan to irk the politicians and to face sanctions. It is, hence, Facebook has seemingly taken a centrist path. Although the company still publishes political advertisements, it has strongly opposed Britain, the US and Australia’s plan to monitor WhatsApp’s encrypted messages! Governments of these three countries recently informed Facebook that it was necessary to monitor WhatsApp messages in order to check child pornography and terror. Facebook rejected the request, saying that the proposal was contrary to its policy of protecting information and privacy of customers!
Most of the Organisations that are connected to the Social Media, directly or indirectly, are trying hard to prove that they are not puppets. As they have been accused of dancing at the tune of political leadership, these giants of the Social Media have decided to keep their promises. After the birth of Facebook, the Global Community thought that they could enjoy the true Democracy, as people had their Freedom of Speech or Expression in a true sense. The Global Community also thought that dialogue would replace monologue. Indeed, they got an opportunity to share their views on any topic, freely, on the Social Media.
However, the democratic platform has become a political instrument in recent times. The mass base of the Social Media has encouraged the Political Society to use the platform in an attempt to serve (political) interests. It has become easier to send political messages and videos to people via the Social Media. It also becomes easier to monitor the Social Media through various spywares, like Pegasus, which has been developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm, NSO Group.
Just like China (where the Government has imposed a ban on Google), the UK, the US and Australia; India, too, is trying to send important messages to the masses via the Social Media, apart from controlling the platform. The Narendra Modi Government in New Delhi recently asked the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to monitor the Social Media. However, the Apex Court of India did not allow the UIDAI to do so, saying that such a move would be an attack on Democracy! The Social Media are in tremendous pressure because of the politicians and their tactics. Arguably, some of the big Social Media Houses are struggling to come out from this situation. However, they are in deep trouble… in a nutshell, if they think only about people and democracy, then they would have to face the ire of politicians… and, if they serve the political interests, then they would lose the credibility, which is the USP of their business! The Social Media giants need more data to capture the lion’s share of digital marketing… more of data would translate here to mean more viewers!
From this perspective, there is nothing new in the Social Media’s attempt to change their image. They are hardly bothered about their credibility or social responsibility, but about the market that could change at any time. This move is a part and parcel of the digital marketing. One will see many more changes in the coming years.
At the same time, one should admit the fact that many Netizens do not follow ethics while using the Social Media. Often, they ‘unfriend‘, ‘restrict‘ or ‘block‘ other users on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. without any reason. They don’t even realise that it is basically a different form of social humiliation. The Freedom of Speech does not allow anybody to disrespect others and to attack others’ dignity…
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