2013 seems to be the year of serious social media monitoring already!
After the Government Of India (GOI) has made plans to monitor social networks, the news that is doing the rounds is that the Mumbai Police is going to track your social media activities 24*7. According to the news published by Hindustan Times, the crime branch department of Mumbai police is setting up a “social networking site monitoring cell” which would monitor your activities on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. The cell would be a full time dedicated unit that would constantly monitor social media in real time and try to prevent any law and order situation.
The move that has been planned by the crime branch will take a couple of months to be implemented. However, it is already witnessing objection from the netizens of India, fearing that it would lead to curbing of freedom of speech.
“It’s an encroachment on the freedom of speech,” said film-maker Pritish Nandy.
The big question is can we regulate social media?
The crime branch was already monitoring social networks but the recent Palghar case where two girls were arrested for their Facebook posts had brought this need forward. Though the story published by HT has not highlighted how the department plans to monitor social media. And we have seen situations where departments have tried to control social media by requesting blockage of networks in the past but all such fragile steps have failed. So it will be interesting to see how the department plans to monitor such huge data in real time.
As I had said before and most of us agree that the need of the hour is not only monitoring or curbing the usage of social media but also spreading the effective usage of social media. Another question that arises is how effective is the understanding of the crime branch on social media. If we look at the Palghar case, the entire drama was created since the post was hurting the sentiments of a certain group. But arresting the girls for such an issue later highlighted the failure of the police department in understanding the network.
In the entire 2012, we have not come across any initiative undertaken by the GOI or the government departments that were with regard to educating masses about social media or crafting campaigns for social media. Now in 2013 we see the GOI trying new ways to control the medium.
It is high time we realize the powers of social media and educate ourselves about the network. The technology is not creating law and order situation; it is our failure to understand the network and its potential, leading to such issues. Rather than treating social media as an enemy we should look deeper to find a synergy.