Taming social media

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/5/2019 11:46:47 AM IST

 Indian social media has grown by leaps and bounds particularly as a tool for political propaganda which saw its meteoric rise since 2014 when Narendra Modi practically ushered in a new era of the alternative media, first as Gujarat chief minister when he foresaw its power to reach out to the common people. Modi had used social media to telling effect prior to and during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Having achieved mass propaganda success, the Modi government adopted an almost-mandatory Twitter presence for all ministries by hiring professional agencies costing around Rs.2 crore a year. Central ministries are using Twitter and Facebook to the hilt where all ministries barring external affairs, information and broadcasting have opened Twitter and Facebook accounts between June and December 2014. Rise of alternative media in India is a reality for the simple reason that the mainstream media has restrained itself to the point of not daring to ask questions or probe the current Modi government. For the entire period of its first four years and some more, the government carried on as if no scandal had touched it. However in the post-2014 social media revolution, the Modi government turned hostile especially after a slew of allegations that had emerged from stories investigated and published mainly by niche magazines and digital media. These included exposes by Caravan magazine that insinuated foul play in the death of Judge Brijgopal Loya who had been hearing a case against BJP President Amit Shah, and many by TheWire.in on the financial dealings of Amit Shah’s son, Jay Shah, the Rafale deal and other official improprieties. Such reports were splashed in the social media, where they would be voraciously consumed by people driven to the alternative media by their frustration with not finding adequate anti-establishment news in the conventional media. However, four years later, when social media was rife with alleged wrongdoings and after exploiting the social media, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged “125 crore Indians” to not “spread dirt through social media”, and instead share “good things around them”. It was a dichotomy as Modi follows the most abusive individuals on Twitter among some 2000-odd Twitter handles with half of them being online warriors who peddle a hateful agenda. No other leader in the world of his stature follows trolls in this manner. By using the term “dirt”, Modi has created a subjective dilemma. “Dirt” for some may imply the caustic hate speech that often incites violence or manufactures hatred. This would have to also include casteist slurs and Islamophobia. In Truth versus Hype weekly show, the NDTV showed that there had been a 400 per cent rise in hate crimes since 2014. Lynch mobs have acted with impunity while conscientious civil society members have been jailed on untenable charges. The use of hateful and divisive language by high-ranking politicians has increased almost 500% in the past four years, an NDTV data collection exercise has found. The premise of the exercise was simple: it seems not a day, or a week goes by without some senior politician - a member of Parliament, minister, MLA or even Chief Minister making a hateful comment, be it in the language of bigotry or calling for violence. Social media has been more abused than used by politicians and only amplified this disturbing trend.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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