Viewer Discretion Required: The Reality of ‘New’ media

Importance of Viewer Discretion to cope up with prevailing media bias

You switch on the news channel and see a person shouting at the highest of his lungs trying his best to make you think that the establishment is ‘always’ right. You flip the channel and are welcomed by a man who barely resembles Imran Khan, mimicking the Pakistani PM. Yet one more channel flip and comes a person on your TV screen, taking sarcastic digs at the screaming anchor while propagating his agenda.

News media in today’s context holds a particularly complex place. While there is no denying that in a democratic country, journalism and news act as power balancers and checkers. The commercialisation of news that has come up to be the truth as a consequence of competition and TRP races, has caused sensationalisation of stories. So something like PM visiting his mother is given more coverage than a crucial subject. Not just this but the increasing competition has also led to journalism counting on political parties for funds, thus biased news presentation.

Social Media: The New News Source
Social Media: The New News Source

For a short time, social media sites were considered the perfect successor. Since social media didn’t believe TRP’s, it had been assumed that bias wouldn’t seep in there. But social media comes with its perils. In some other context, the ‘personalised content’ trait of Social Media would be appreciated but within the context of stories, personalised content causes you to sleep in a bubble. You’ll be shown the content, you engage the foremost with. So if you follow leftist accounts, your opinion will progress from what’s shown as facts on those accounts. Which entirely kills the motive of stories within the first place. News should only present events as they’re happening. What to form of it should dwell in the hands of the audience, which, unfortunately, isn’t the case, right now. Social Media has also caused a faster spread of lies. Independent journalism, that became a fad with youngsters like Dhruv Rathee and Pratik Sinha could have brought change but even then the importance of viewer discretion can’t be neglected.

Need of the hour is that the ‘spectator’ becomes the ‘questioner’.

Ravish Kumar, Journalist, NDTV

The circumstances that we live in mandates every citizen to actively pursue true news. To become what they call, “active citizens”. To understand everything about everything and keep an open mind with well-formed opinions. As a citizen of a democratic country like India, it’s our responsibility to not just receive news but actively engage with it. We can not stop watching the news altogether since it’s only when we hear differing opinions that we get to introspect and see if we truly believe in what we are saying. The trick is to seek out a balance between the consumption of news and it’s analysis.

How to flatten the curve of COVID 19 ?

Introduction:

With the spread of COVID-19, the world is facing an unprecedented economic, social and political crisis. Global leaders and experts said COVID-19 is and will be “the gravest challenge since the World War II.”

Korea is no exception in this global pandemic. Korea
had a surge of COVID-19 outbreak and virus started spreading at the local and community level. The number of new coronavirus cases increases exponentially peaking at 909 new infections on February 29.

But new case has dropped significantly.

Korea was able to successfully flatten the curve on COVID-19 in only 20 days without
complete lock down, which has had a huge impact on global economy, but maintaining a balance between quarantine and social distancing on one hand and continue with economic activities and production on the other.

What is the secret of Korea’s successful response?

ICTs played a vital role in fighting COVID-19 in Korea. Mobile devices were used to support early testing and contact tracing.

Advanced ICTs were particularly useful in spreading key emergency information on novel virus and help to maintain extensive ‘social distancing’.

The testing results and latest information on COVID-19 was made
available via national and local government websites. The government provided free smartphone apps flagged infection hotspots with text alerts on testing and local cases.


In the publication, we will present actual response measures of Korean government against COVID-19 using the latest ICTs and discuss how we can fight smarter against an invisible micro-pathogen.

We hope the information and experience of Korea may
provide a valuable solution to help your country and community combat COVID-19.

ICT helps SOCIAL DISTANCING:

Emergency broadcasting service (CBS, cellular
broadcasting service)

The Cellular Broadcasting Service, or CBS, enables government agencies to transmit emergency alert text messages on natural or man-made disasters to cell phones through mobile telecom carriers in Korea.

The CBS can send these messages without a delivery bottleneck when an emergency occurs because it does not use the general SMS text messaging system.

Moreover, it delivers messages to subscribers’ mobile
phones in a way such that a customized warning alarm only goes off in the disaster area.

In general, the system sends short messages with emergency alerts and guidelines for citizens. Messages are categorized into three types based on the severity of the disaster.

The most urgent emergency disaster messages such as an air
raid warning
and NBC warning are transmitted during wartime with the alarm sounding at a volume above 60 decibels, and it is impossible to ignore the texts.

The second highest-risk notification about emergent disasters sends an alert exceeding 40 decibels when a disaster occurs.

Finally, safety campaign messaging provides safety
notices.

Municipalities throughout Korea are putting every effort into curbing the contagion as they use the CBS to inform the public of the movement paths taken by confirmed patients and other related information.

Residents who receive COVID-19 emergency texts can quickly check if they have been anywhere that overlaps with the movement of a confirmed patient, allowing them to get tested quickly if necessary.

In this way, the CBS contributes to slowing the spread of the virus across the nation.

Smart Working:

A special website providing information of solution companies
for remote working

As services not requiring in-person contact are on the rise due to COVID-19,solutions needed for remote working and remote learning will be provided.


The Korean government opened a website to provide information about companies providing solutions for remote working and education and their products; related support will also be provided. The website was opened after a joint survey with the Korea Software Industry Association to identify business
demand and classifying more than 140 solutions by sector.

The website provides filtered search results of companies (company information, functions
and price of their products, etc.), and users can visit the company website for more details.

Information about free solutions is also available so that they can
be utilized for remote learning and remote working.

Smart working and social distancing (Holding virtual video
conferences)


A number of municipalities in Korea are performing their duties through ICT enabled real-time virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings as part of their efforts to implement strict social distancing measures to slow the spread of new infections.

Video conferencing can be a viable alternative to essential
in-person meetings due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It also helps to prevent
the spread of the virus by eliminating the need for physical contact between the participants.

Remote Education

Providing educational contents by the central government.

As schools have been shut down due to COVID-19, the Korean government is offering science content online to minimize interruptions in students’ learning and expand their opportunities for learning activities.

On March 9, the Korean government created a general information page on the science portal website.

ScienceAll, to introduce diverse online science content, which contains educational content for science, mathematics and software; immersive content for learning science (AR, VR); video clips, comics and quizzes about science.

The government also announced the launch of the page through a notification page for parents. After the information page was created, the number of users of ScienceAll increased by 1.04 compared to the week before and by 2.74 compared to January 2020, showing that more people are using the portal’s content.

As many universities are switching to online classes, instructors are facing problems due to being unable to offer students hands-on experience. To tackle this challenge, the Korean government created and released hands-on learning content using simulation software for 23 high-demand classes in (e.g. quantum
chemistry), in addition to currently available software and educational content.

Using the online simulation platform, EDISON, students will be able to get hands-on experience through simulation and access diverse content including videos, text and data, which is expected to increase the effectiveness of online learning.

Seoul City Office of Education’s efforts in remote education

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE), which has the largest number of students and education-related stakeholders in Korea, has established an educational infrastructure with the view to implementing a stable system of remote education that will be introduced nationwide.

The SMOE is taking a multifaceted approach to providing public schools with the support they need to cover the curriculum.

The SMOE has formulated and implemented the “Operational Plan for the Seoul Version of Online Classes,” which is designed to close learning gaps caused by the closure of schools , following the coronavirus outbreak and prepare students for remote learning.


For aspiring schools and teachers, the SMOE has introduced services via online learning programs such as Edunet, EBS Online Class, and Google Classroom.

It released and distributed an “Online Learning Management Manual” and used the Seoul Education YouTube channel to help teachers who encounter difficulties preparing for online classes.

Remote Medicare

The Korean government has temporarily permitted doctors to perform telemedicine from the end of February as part of preventive measures to avoid group contagion in vulnerable facilities including medical institutions and nursing homes.

In other words, patients can receive phone consultations and
have medicine prescribed without visiting medical institutions when the doctor considers it safe.

Remote medicine targeting confirmed coronavirus patients

Last March, telemedicine services were implemented in Moongyeong Seoul National University Hospital (North Gyeongsangbuk-do Daegu 3 Living and Treatment Support Center) for the first time in Korea, as there were clusters of confirmed coronavirus patients in Daegu City, Gyeongsangbuk-d.

The Moongyeong Seoul National University Hospital relies on video calls and electronic systems more safely and efficiently to monitor coronavirus patients hospitalized with mild symptoms.

Nurses ask patients detailed questions about their conditions via video calls through smart phones. The Moongyeong Seoul
National University Hospital established the same computer network as its main hospital to record patients’ medical examinations and treatments through telehealth video conferencing.

Medical questionnaires filled out by patients and X-ray scans are uploaded onto the computer.

Radiologists from Seoul National University Hospital, which is hundreds of kilometres away from Moongyeong see the video and enter the results into the computer database.


Backed by these services, the hospital has been able to check the symptoms of confirmed patients in real time and transfer patients with aggravated symptoms to larger neighbouring hospitals.

Telemedicine using apps (private sector)

In these circumstances, several start-ups have begun to develop telemedicine service apps. Patients can log onto the Meredith app, select the hospital they want to visit, and make an appointment to see a doctor.

They can receive remote medical advice via video call using the Telemedicine Treatment Room menu provided by the app. Prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy designated by the patient.

Doctor provides a service called Corona virus 119 where self-reporting their symptoms allows patients to receive medical treatment and prescriptions. Corona virus 119 service gives patients access to general diagnoses for a cough or cold alongside remote treatment and prescriptions for suspected coronavirus symptoms.

If an app user is suspected of being infected with COVID-19, they will then be connected to the 1339 hotline. There, they can receive a diagnosis and receive a prescription from a doctor by phone after filling out a questionnaire that screens for symptoms.

Telemedicine using apps leads patients to answer questions about their medical history through mobile devices. The services are highly convenient and efficient, while also preventing contagion that could occur during direct hospital visits.

Predictive Research on the Spread of COVID-19

The government is making full use of Korea’s research capabilities to support the decision-making process of the infection control authorities, such as, sharing data, for accurate and reliable prediction of the spread of COVID-19.

The Korean government is supporting predictive research on the spread of COVID-19 carried out by Korean researchers using diverse methods, by identifying and sharing data that can be used by researchers within the scope of data protection and also by helping researchers establish a professional network among them.

Such support will be useful for forecasting the macroscopic spread of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of response measures, which will be helpful when making decisions needed for infection control.

For example, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) used a supercomputer and Individual Simulation for Transfer Phenomena, KIST’s own modelling method, to analyse the effectiveness of disease control measures taken by the Korean government.

The results from the analysis shows that if social distancing measures had not been taken by the Korean government in the late February, the number of newly confirmed cases per day would have soared to maximum 4,000, indicating the importance of social distancing.

Creating apps related to COVID-19

The development of coronavirus apps is ongoing in Korea. During the initial stages of the outbreak, a university student created the “Corona virus Map” app which informs users of the movements of confirmed patients based on information released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Since, the virus has spread to dozens of areas across the nation and the outbreak has become prolonged, many start-ups have also developed apps, providing a wide range of information and functions.

The app “Now and Here” calculates a mix of risk factors in surrounding areas when users enter their commuting routes. Moreover, if users record their own routes, the app serves the function of comparing the user’s paths with those previously taken by confirmed patients or new patients diagnosed with the coronavirus.

If the user has been at the same place as a confirmed patient at a similar time, the app suggests when and where testing is available. The app Cobaek (an alert for coronavirus within 100 meters) sends an alarm when users are within 100 meters of a place that a confirmed patient visited.

With the alarm on, users are saved the hassle of checking the details of paths taken by confirmed patients. This convenient app has been downloaded hundreds of times. The app was then upgraded to the Cobaek Plus version with the addition of alerts for the availability of publicly provided masks at pharmacies.

Social service personnel from Gyeongsangnam-do produced an app tailored to the region that provides information on the movements of confirmed patients in the region. Using Google Maps, this app displays details on the movement and visits of infected citizens based on the user’s location and a coronavirus patients’ visits to different areas are clearly marked.

The app developers came to realize the inconvenience caused by having to check two apps to discover the paths taken by confirmed patients and locations selling publicly provided masks, despite increasing demand from residents for information on where masks could be purchased.

Accordingly, residents can now receive updates on both through a single app. The number of masks currently available at a given location is announced by color: green (more than 100), yellow (between 30 and 99), red (below 30), and grey (none available), and the information on mask sellers is automatically updated in accordance with the materials publicly released by the National Information Society Agency (NIA).

ICT facilitates COVID-19 TREATMENT:

Research to facilitate drug re-purposing

The government, research institutes and businesses have cooperated to identify candidate drugs for COVID-19 treatment through drug re-purposing, and conducted clinical studies with confirmed patients.

To secure treatments for COVID-19 as quickly as possible, the Korean government is supporting the re purposing of drugs to identify those that are effective against COVID-19. Compared to the development of a new treatment, which generally takes over a decade, drug re purposing only requires efficacy evaluation and can help find COVID-19 treatment in the near future.

To maximize the capabilities and resources of relevant agencies for effective drug repurposing research, the Korean government formed a drug repurposing council, composed of the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT), Institute Pasteur Korea, the Korea Research Institute of Bio science and Biotechnology (KRIBB), the Korea Mouse Phenotyping Center (KMPC), and Korea University.

Drug repositioning aims to validate the efficacy of existing drugs in cells (drug screening), provide the results to healthcare professionals, and test the repositioned drug to patients. Animal testing might be put in place for efficacy validation to provide additional information to healthcare workers.

Developing medicine using AI

Furthermore, the use of AI is expected to reduce the time required to develop medicine, as AI can learn and make deductions based on the virus and other medical data. Company D, which develops new medicine and relevant platforms through the use of AI, used deep learning algorithms to predict the interaction of drug and protein, and propose candidate medicine for the coronavirus.

Company D and the research team at Danguk University under Kang Geunsoo have used AI to analyze the antiviral drugs on the market to predict medicines that may be effective against the COVID-19.

The result of this study was published through a BioRxiv under the title, ‘Predicting commercially available antiviral drugs that may act on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Wuhan, China through a drug-target interaction deep learning model.’

According to the research, Company D and the researchers used pre-trained deep learning-based drug-target interaction model called Molecule Transformer-Drug Target Interaction (MT-DTI) to identify commercially available drugs that could act on viral proteins of SARS-CoV-2. The result showed that atazanavir, an antiretroviral medication used to treat and prevent

the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is the best chemical compound. In addition, the researchers also found that several antiviral agents, such as Kaletra, could be used for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2. Overall, the research suggests that the list of antiviral drugs identified by the MT-DTI model should be considered, when establishing effective treatment strategies for SARS-CoV-2.

Conclusion:

Humanity has usually been at war against each other. But this time, almost every country fight against the same enemy, an invisible micro-pathogen.

The success or failure of this fight will naturally be a measure of the overall capacity of a country, and will have great implications for global community and history. We hope this study will be a small but meaningful policy guides for the international community and especially those developing countries by sharing Korea’s experiences and countermeasures against COVID-19 over the past three months.

COVID-19 countermeasures taken by the Korean government will not be conclusive nor the Korean case cannot be a universal key for all countries’ fight against COVID-19. With that in mind, we can have following five lessons from the Korean government’s response to COVID-19 using ICT.

Finally, we should together make best efforts to turn the crisis into opportunity and make the best use of the cutting- edge ICT technologies in forefront of fight against COVID-19.

We should also work together by making every information gathered on COVID-19 readily available to all.

Any information on fight against COVID-19 is a public good, and it should be provided quickly to everyone in need and in their fight against COVID-19, as they must act and response most quick and swift manner. In this pandemic we are all connected, any wisdom and experience must be also shared quickly and fairly.

BY SHUBHAM KUMAR

The Swedish Riots of 2020: A brief overview

The Swedish city of Malmo witnessed riots on 29th August, 2020. Protests begun soon after a copy of Quran was burnt by members of the far-right Danish party Stram Kurs.

Indian Express reported that over 300 people took part in these protests. The news outlet also informed that few of the protesters might have thrown objects at the officers and burnt tyres.

Police arrested at least 10 people with connection to this rally that might cause harm to the society. NDTV explains that the head of this “far-right Danish anti-immigration party was due to travel to Malmo to speak at Friday’s event, which was being held on the same day as weekly prayers for the Muslim sabbath.

But authorities pre-emptied Paludan’s arrival by announcing he had been banned from entering Sweden for two years.

He was later arrested near Malmo.” However, irrespective of that, authorities claimed that his supporters went along with the rally anyway.

During this time, six people were arrested for provoking racial hatred. Later, Paludan put up a scornful message on Facebook as to how he is barred from entering Sweden but aliens of questionable character is authorized to stay.

A Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, reported that the leader of this far right party, Rasmus Paludan, was denied permission to hold a meeting that aimed at raising awareness regarding fast paced Islamization of Nordic countries.

Even then a rumour was doing rounds that a Quran might be burnt in this particular meeting. The head of this party was invited by a Swedish Artist, Dan Park, who has already been convicted for inciting violence by targeting ethnic groups.

A report stated that Sweden has acted as a safe haven for refugees right after Canada and Australia. Sweden has grant refuge to approximately 70,000 Syrian refugees after the beginning of the Syrian war.

The report that was published in Brookings showed that in 2015 “Sweden received a record 162,000 applications for asylum primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and this influx of Muslim asylum seekers from war-torn countries has had a significant impact on Swedish politics.

Speculation has taken roots among Swedish people that due to the influx of Muslim immigrants, crime rose predominantly since the migrant crisis. This view was mainly promoted by a right-wing party, Sweden Democrats, that has its roots in Neo-Nazism.

Moreover, a report in The New York Times regarding how this influx might become an issue has being something that the Swedish has been wary of.

This report stated that Sweden depends on the taxes paid by its citizens for smooth functioning, but as a large number of migrants might be unskilled, they will depend on the welfare schemes for years.

Also, the unemployment rate that stood at nearly 3% in 2018 showed that 15% of the unemployed people are foreign-born Swedish population.

Such statistics have been used time and again by parties like Sweden Democrats to push forward their agenda and blame the refugees.

However, it must be mentioned that Sweden alone is not home to right wing populist parties that bring radical national identity ideas and immigration issues to the forefront.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany and Vox in Spain can be cited as examples.

It is also imperative to mention that these riots are not happening for the first time in Sweden, but have happened previously when President Donald Trump made a visit to this country and talked about immigration issues in 2017.

In 2010, Sweden saw another set of riots after a group of youth was denied entry to a school dance.

                                                                                                                                   By – Sagarika Mukhopadhyay

NATIVISM AND RISING UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS IN INDIA

Indian politics has already come up with different versions of “sons of the soil” theory over the decades. Recently, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh announced that only those domiciled in their state would be eligible for the government jobs in Madhya Pradesh.

Though it is not unique, it directly signifies accepting of nativism in a democratic country like India.

Recently, some other states like Madhya Pradesh introduced some domicile eligibility for the government as well as private job seekers.

‘Sons of the soil’ theory and “Nativism”:

These two terms are profoundly interrelated to each other.

Sons of the soil” theory defines as the view that a particular state belongs to the main linguistic community inhabiting it or the state constitutes the exclusive homeland of its native resident.

Nativism is the political policy by which native-born or established residents are given more preference than immigrants by supporting some immigration-restriction measures.

For several months to the worldwide lock down, the unemployment rate in India has taken a drastic hit. According to the data compiled by India today’s data intelligence unit, the unemployment rate in April 2020 touched 23.52% which was almost three times the average number of 2019 and 2020.

Under the critical circumstances, many states are thinking to walk through the same path as the Madhya Pradesh government took.

Mr. Chauhan’s declaration was served as a commitment to the youths of the state, but in reality, it is a cause of concern. Maharashtra government is also moving forward towards measures to give privilege to locals in employment in private sectors.

Nativism cannot figure out India’s unemployment issue:

Although regional parties always give focus to the resident, Nativism is not a solution to India’s rising joblessness. The policy may help the residential job seekers to some extent but unable to eradicate the rate of unemployment in the country.

Nevertheless, mainstreaming of nativism is partially a good sign in the case of languages. Some states demand a certain proficiency in local languages to be worked in the government sector mainly, which is for administrative purposes.

There are also some limitations in tribal areas apart from the cultures and way of living which comes under India’s diversity.

On the other side, if the area is restricted then it would be a new challenge for youths to explore their career. Moreover, migrant populations fulfill a market demand which is made by gaps in skills.

That is why government laws of the past in several states in the mandatory quota system for locals in jobs were not applied.

Conclusion:

India is currently facing severe joblessness crisis and it affects the young minds. Unemployment is the ratio of the people who are seeking jobs and not getting jobs compared to all job seekers.

India’s growing unemployment rate denotes the failure of society to give the jobs. Nativism can create a barrier for migrants that may beneficial for local people but it also affects the economy.

It would hinder the path of youngsters across the country to brainstorm by creating this kind of policy.

By Saswati Chattopadhyay.

Links Between Facebook and The BJP

Just the day before our 73rd Independence Day on 14th August 2020, a report by Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz was published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) “exposing” the links of Facebook with the ruling party in India (Union), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


The report stated that the Facebook’s regional chief (Director) of public policy to have turned a blind-eye to posts by politicians from the ruling party in India, resulting in hate-speech continuing to exist on its platform despite violating their own community guidelines, with no or very minute action taken against their propagators.

Application/Websitemonthly active users (in millions)
WhatsApp400
Facebook290
Instagram165

Facebook has its biggest user base in India with its string of social media applications.

The WSJ Report

The report starts with the mention of BJP MLA from Telangana, the notorious T. Raja Singh. The report bears the testimony of present and former employees of Facebook who’ve said that Facebook has violated their own community guidelines and have let content, which comprises of “hate-speech” and violent rhetoric, continued to exist on its platform.

The report has made firm statements about Ms. Ankhi Das, who is at the epicenter of this controversy. Ms. Das, who joined Facebook in 2011 as its public-policy head for India, South and Central Asia, oversees a team that “decides what content is allowed on the platform”, as said by an employee.

Her job profile includes lobbying to India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, has as the report states as said by employees, both former and present, “told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Singh has broken such guidelines on several occasions be it threatening to create a “Dadri-like situation” after students of Osmania University in Hyderabad made plans to organize a beef festival on campus (December 2015) when he called for the “beheading of those who oppose the Ram temple”, leading to tension in the state (2017).

In January this year, Singh reiterated his threat to kill the “Owaisi brothers” — AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi — and bring an end to all those who oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Facebook is said, under the guidance of Ms. Das, that Singh has been allowed to persist on the social media platform with some of his posts removed after the WSJ approached Facebook.

The report further states “That team took no action after BJP politicians posted content accusing Muslims of intentionally spreading the coronavirus, plotting against the nation and waging a ‘love jihad’ campaign by seeking to marry Hindu women, that former employee said. Ms. Das has provided the BJP with favorable treatment on election-related issues, current, and former employees said”.

It goes on “In April of last year, days before voting began in India’s general election, Facebook announced it had taken down inauthentic pages tied to Pakistan’s military and the Congress Party, the BJP’s main rival party. But it didn’t disclose it also removed pages with false news tied to the BJP, because Ms. Das intervened, according to former Facebook employees

The report also mentions that Ms. Das’ essay found its mention on the website as well as the mobile application of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre. There’s also a tempting attempt to establish the personal conviction of Das with the saffron outfits as she’s found to share posts with anti-Muslim rhetoric on her social accounts.

Further, there’s mention of Kapil Mishra, whose video is considered to have incited the deadly Delhi Riots earlier this year and Anantkumar Hegde, who has posted essays and cartoons to his Facebook page alleging that Muslims are spreading Covid-19 in the country in a conspiracy to wage “Corona Jihad.

Facebook’s Quid-Pro-Quo & Past Miscreants

It is not the first time such a controversy had taken place. Just about two months ago, when the Black Lives Matter #BLM movement started with the death of George Floyd, Facebook has been stated to have supported and ignored its own community guidelines and have let hate-speech and violence triggering tinged content left to subsist on its platform.

The WSJ, New York Times, and Washington Post were swift to report after finding out valid sources and drafting such reports and have linked Facebook’s electoral contribution in the U.S to such politicians.

During the protests, when Trump threatened to issue the Insurrection Act (1857) after protesters marched to the White House the previous evening and burned the church nearby, popularly known as “church of the Presidents”, Facebook and Instagram were found out to help the Federal authorities to trace and track data of the protesters from their devices and steal their personal data and hack their way into their lives.

It was only after the advertisement pushover and boycott over its (favorable) treatment for Trump that Facebook founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would start labeling contents and it deterred from doing so, so as to let people know “what’s in the case“.

The report also states such behavior of Facebook “Facebook sometimes adapts its policies to meet political realities in key markets. Facebook agreed to abide by stricter hate-speech rules in Germany, than in the U.S. or elsewhere.

In Singapore, where its Asia operations are based, it has agreed to append a “correction notice” to news stories deemed false by the government. And in Vietnam, it agreed to restrict access to dissident political content deemed illegal in exchange for the government ending its practice of disrupting Facebook’s local servers, which had slowed the platform to a crawl”

Das’ alleged decision in Singh’s case bears a striking similarity to global reports from earlier this month, where Facebook’s vice-president of global public policy, Joel Kaplan is reported to have intervened to “remove strikes” against conservative pages in the United States.

The repercussions

Just as the report reached India, the whole activism world bloated like a cannon.

Soon after the report in The Wall Street Journal, Saket Gokhale, a Right to Information (RTI) activist, tweeted about Ankhi Das’s links to BJP-affiliated groups.


Gokhale claimed on Saturday that Ankhi Das “attends sessions” of the World Organization of Students & Youth (WOSY), a youth group that is led by her sister, Rashmi Das.


Gokhale claimed WOSY’s office was located in the same building as an RSS outfit in Delhi.
Rashmi Das was also an office-bearer of the ABVP (BJP’s student-wing) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

With leaders from the opposition demanding a fair probe with the Parliamentary Committee of Information Technology, headed by Dr. Shashi Tharoor, even Saket Gokhale tweeted that the Modi government will soon derail the whole issue and so it’s better to appeal the head of the committee.

Opposition parties like Congress have also written to the government and Facebook for a probe and to clear their stand, respectively.

A huge number of people have expressed their concern within and beyond borders and tweeted and mentioned the government and party leaders demanding a free and fair probe, with the AAP party’s Raghav Chadha led Delhi Assembly panel stating that they’d soon call upon Facebook officials for inquiry.

Meanwhile, Ms. Das has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police stating “threat on her life” due to the WSJ article and has named 5 other individuals in the FIR. “I am extremely disturbed by the relentless harassment meted out to me,” Das had said in her police complaint.


According to a report on News laundry, Das named Himanshu Deshmukh, Awash Tiwari, Anamika Singh, Travis Bikal, and the Twitter user @justanalysis as the accused. In the criminal complaint, only Awesh Tiwari is a journalist.

The Chandigarh Press Bureau, a journalist body has requested the withdrawal of the criminal complaint by Das.

Facebook did also respond, just in a different way. They fired the employee who provided WSJ for his testimony. This is also something the social media giant has done in the past.

On 12th June 2020, Facebook had fired employees who protested against inaction upon Trump’s provocative post during the Black Lives Matter protests.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that a handful of employees have written a letter asking Facebook to denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” posts from BJP politicians that Ankhi Das protected and shared herself on the platform.

In a comment posted internally to employees, Ajit Mohan, the head of Facebook in India, said the company was confident that the WSJ article’s claim about political affiliations influencing decision making in India is “inaccurate and without merit,” Reuters reported.

Facebook has yet to offer any evidence to dispute the claims made in the WSJ report — and has not disputed them at all in its statements to news outlets. In its public statements, Facebook has said it is making “progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits.”

The parliamentary panel on Information Technology has summoned Facebook officials and officials from the Ministry of Information Technology on September 2, 2020, for an inquiry into the claims.


To this Nishikant Dubey, a Member of Parliament of the BJP from Jharkhand has requested the Lok Sabha speaker, to remove Shashi Tharoor as the panel chairperson.

Conclusion

Without rules, we live among animals.  There are community guidelines for the safety of users in the social platform, which can be taken for the rules, and from time and again, in lines with such guidelines, content on social media is scrutinized, censored and removed (if found violating the rules).

This is the responsibility of the platform to care for its users, and that’s why the “report” option exits if the content is perceived to be harmful or malicious.  For such a huge presence, to deter community guidelines is very important for every single user to feel safe in their space.

This is a live example where a corporate is lobbying in a give-&-take manner, negotiates with the government so as to enhance its business. They don’t care for the people.

If we’re to blame the political outfits, we must also know that the political outfits could’ve done nothing if they were not provided the medium on a silver platter. This is corporate greed.

We must be aware and conscious that such corporations do more harm than good and choose the applications or websites wisely to propagate our thoughts and ideas in free will and rely on their servers with our data, and they’d point out and correct if any of our thoughts are in violation of others’ or a community’s.

                                                                         – Aanandita Singh