Social media faces control by authorities and indiscretion by users: recent examples

In this edition of social media updates, there are stories from around the world about control of the medium - sometimes with clearly good intent and sometimes not so good, even nefarious - and misuse of the medium. It was not intended this way, but so many such happenings have occurred that we have made it a post exclusively on these aspects, leaving blogging and other types of social media happenings for the next edition.

Nepal government to enact harsh social media law.

The Nepalese government has proposed a new law with harsh punishment for posting improper contents on social networking sites. 

Under the proposed law, authorities will now be able to book if they find that the content is meant for character assassination or attacking national sovereignty. The penalty includes a hefty fine of up to Rs 1.5 million and/or five years imprisonment.

As expected, national and international media has criticized the government for trying to gag social media.

Azerbaijan is contemplating to close global social networks after creating its own.

A report in OC-media says,  the ruling party is thinking of creating a native social media platform so as to protect the country against 'moral terrorism' from global social networks. A leader is reported having explained thus: ...They try to discredit the state and the authorities on social networks. They do this for deliberate political purposes.

An earlier similar attempt yielded no result, the report says.

Bangladesh's popular blogging platform shut down by authorities.

In a crackdown meant to control pornography and gambling,  Bangladesh government has ordered ISPs to shut down
about 20,000 websites. The list includes a popular blogging platform, somewhereinblog, which has denied that it was fostering any such content. This platform, in Bangla language, hosts over 2,50,000 blogs.

Interestingly, the Bengali version of Google Books has also been closed down!

India warns social media giants to behave during elections.

With general elections for the country's parliament round the corner, Facebook and Twitter have seen efforts by interested groups to manipulate the platforms. Trolling, fake news, advertisements in the garb of news and other inappropriate ways to influence voters have muddied the social media space very badly. WhatsApp, the instant messaging platform, is reported being used for spreading misinformation and for intrusive advertising.

Though the Election Commission is reported to be working closely with social giants and also is monitoring social messages closely, Indian parliamentarians have taken note. A committee first called Twitter bosses and gave them a deadline to answer questions that it has raised, and that would follow demanding answers from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

When Facebook is called a 'digital gangster'

A UK parliamentary committee has come down severely on Facebook for making indiscreet use of user data - and breaking privacy and competition laws - for making profit.

The committee held an 18-month investigation into the working of the social media giant and even said that it was behaving like a 'digital gangster'.

Facebook out of control

What seems to have specially peeved the committee is that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook boss, refused to meet the committee.

Indian media website exposes how celebrities are prone to making favorable recommendations and comments for a fee.

Cobrapost, a website known for exposes, has come out with a report that exposes about 3 dozen Indian celebrities for accepting offers to promote a political party. In the website's sting operation, Operation Karaoke, its reporters posed as public relations guys and offered different sums; the celebrities - mostly known Bollywood actors - accepted the offers and wanted their fee to be paid mostly in cash to avoid any banking trails!

 Social media in times of war

In the face of an attack by terrorists camping and being trained by Pakistani forces, India entered into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and damaged terrorist bunkers.  It later led to a short (so far, at least) dogfight of aircrafts. 

While the action occurred at the border, Indian and Pakistani mainstream media and social media played their role in flaring up emotions. As expected, rumors and photo-shopped images made rounds, and people on the two sides used the worst type of language against each other. Even some government sites were hacked.

In many cases, the 'breaking news' on social media spread far and wide and even attracted comments from knowledgeable persons before it was trashed as rumor.