1. The irresponsibility of the social media platforms to remove disinformation has had created dangerous outcomes in the recent pasts. What steps must be taken to ensure a more responsible behaviour from these platforms? (150 words)
- Source: The Indian express - Page 10/The Editorial Page - DIGITAL DEMONS
- GS 1: Communalism
Introduction: Recently there has been a debate on the algorithms that social media like facebook use that promote information consumerism in such a way as to promote fake news, hate speech and explicit content. This has led to various communal incidents including the recent riots in Bangladesh. Further it uses 87% of its budget against fake news only in North America, adopting an irresponsible behaviour everywhere else. Such disclosures were also made by a Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, recently.
Risks of algorithms employed on social media:
- Spreading misinformation: in the recent example of riots in Bangladesh, the fakenews of Quran being kept under the feet of goddess spread like wildfire across the country. Further it can hamper the country's ability to deal with national threats like COVID by spreading misinformation about vaccines.
- Promoting hate and explicit content: The machine learning algorithms promote those posts which get most views automatically. Incidentally the most eye-catching headlines are the ones which get most clicks which eventually end up being promoted. It incudes hate speech.
- pornographic content & Child porn: The algorithm in similar fashion promotes porn too due to high engagement.
- Creating information ghettos: The social media does not let a person to connect with the whole world as it is often assumed. Due to information consumerism, a very narrow range of information is repeated in front of a person which a person follows up more, creating a cluster effect.
- Use of fake accounts: for political and economic motives end up spreading more confusion and hate.
Steps required to ensure a more responsible social media:
- Ensuring Transparency: in the algorithms employed by the social media giants.
- Ascertaining responsibility: of the platforms if found promoting through algorithms, fake news, hate speech or explicit content.
- Improving Regulations: Both social media and the regular media needs to be regulated. For this a separate legislation can be made.
- Creating Grievance redressal Mechanism: making these platforms responsive in a timely manner.
- Training law enforcement agencies: In skills required to track the source of information and about the legal options available in such cases.
- Regular Audits and mechanism for fines: There should be mechanisms by which the social media can be audited for the steps taken against such contents. There should be fine against violations.
- Countering misinformation with right information: awareness campaigns can be launched to deal with issues like misinformation against vaccination.
- Education: Which can teach tolerance, remove prejudices and stereotypical images of other communities. A rational behaviour can create a social blockade against such content.
Conclusion: The IT rules 2021 are a good start in this regard. However, these can be no substitute for a law passed by the Parliament in this regard. Further, there is a need for shear political will to address the spread of politically motivated content. In this regard, updation of Model code of conduct(MCC) too can be considered.