Social Media, Communication vs Governments

I would imagine that most of the readers are not only aware of social media and internet communications but are also heavy users of Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Gtalk, Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, etc etc. What a fantastic technological breakthrough which literally makes the entire world real-time, user friendly and connected via this huge thing called internet. With affordable smart phones, it has now become more easier to keep in touch on a real time basis, irrespective of whether you want an urgent information from a friend sitting at Auckland while you are physically located at London. Technology has no doubt made the world a global village with no effective boundaries to cross for communication across the world, across languages, etc.

Now information can spread rapidly multiplying by GP rather than simple additions. It can not only go across localities, but across regions, across cities, across countries, across continents. While this is a great boon to most of the people, this has also resulted in headaches for authorities and governments. The UK rioting that happened across cities in 2010 spread rapidly because of huge use of Blackberry Messenger where precise time and locations for arson and looting were apparently shared amongst closed groups. Facebook played a pivotal role in the Egypt uprising of people. And before the authorities had even any clues of the next imminent ‘danger’, the same were executed with massive and precise execution. It is now a common headache for governments to try and intercept terrorist ‘chatter’ through the internet where the source detection becomes that much difficult. That results in the often tussle between governments and these service providers to open up ‘encryption’ codes so that any message can be intercepted — which leads to the endless debate of individual privacy vs security and safety.

Recent incidents in India (one in Bengal and other in Maharasthtra) have again raised the questions of “freedom of internet” for voicing individual’s thought. Sharing of cartoons highlighting ministers led to arrests; sharing of anger against a popular leader of an area led to again arrests of teenager.

Therefore, as governments go up the maturity curve to handle such situations along with the citizens of a country, I have a feeling that this freedom of opinion through these means will be curtailed in the future and sometimes even blocked (as already there in countries like China). In the long term, probably an unofficial “code of conduct” will evolve naturally which will allow co-existence between conflicting views and opinions, specially against not-so-tolerant or not-so-patient administrations and governments.

Till that evolves, probably it is best to be “careful” while living a virtual life in the internet. And the degree of “carefullness” will be always open to interpretation

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

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