Pratham Malik Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Misuse of Social Media Platforms

Pratham Malik
Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Misuse of Social Media Platforms

Social media is a relatively recent phenomenon and has become an essential part of our daily lives. Social media has enabled people to be connected no matter wherever they are and is bringing out new facets of people interest, engagement, and behavior.

From daily news to disasters, information reaches people almost immediately and is keeping them hooked like never before. But how people express themselves or react is what makes social media a double-edged sword. On September 27th 2015, the plight of a young school-going boy from an economically weak family who was sitting outside a Noida metro station and trying to earn some pennies through a weighing scale and studying at the same time, caught a commuter’s attention. The commuter took a picture of the scene and uploaded it on Facebook and the photo quickly went viral. In response to this photo, several people came forward to help the poor boy. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh himself came forward to help this boy in need and promised to ensure that the boy will be provided with enough resources so that he can study without doing any work. While this is an example of the positive impact of social media, the negative side is also quickly gaining ground and that too in a very dangerous manner.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of social media users and hours spent on social media by people. Also now with the network availability on mobile phones, all age groups are exposed to it. While it certainly has its advantages, it does pose many threats too. Most of the people using social media are unaware of how their data can be used, stolen or leaked, and then sold. Less than 10 percent of all social media users go through the privacy policy. We all just tend to just ‘accept’ and move on. Even on the applications we download on our phones, we rarely take the time to read the privacy policy and just accept it without reading it.

With the increasing user base on every social media platform, the companies are sitting on individual and enterprise data worth billions of dollars. However, no stringent and strict policies are implemented and the data can be very easily stolen and used for unethical purposes. Social media can expose inside information of an organization and employee views on it to the whole user base in a matter of minutes. People today are unaware of how the information on social media is misused.

There are many more problems on social media like hate speech, violent or death threats, publicly releasing intimate photos, hate porn, and even morphed images. There have been several instances where a person was damaged by attacks on social media that they chose to end their own life. Almost 20 percent of social media users have said that social media has affected their mental health in some way or the other. Especially in India, where all kinds of people use social media, the probability of such incidents increases. There are many so-called "social media influencers "who are very influential on social media. People often follow them blindly with no regard for the consequences.

A very recent example of this was the death of Manav Singh, a boy who was wrongfully accused of raping a girl without any evidence. He was harassed on social media and was constantly attacked by a lot of people. He was severely affected by this and committed suicide. There was no proof whatsoever but still, the judiciary of social media judged him and forced him to take such a drastic step. This shows us that currently people are not educated or sensible enough and there should be strict laws for social media platforms. All of us need to educate ourselves and those around us so that people are more aware and behave in a proper manner of social media. The common herding behavior of people should stop and they should think with their own mind instead of following others blindly. This is very important for the current day scenario and will make social media a more safe platform for all of us.