Social Media Week: Social Change in Spotlight - The New Indian Express

Social Media Week: Social Change in Spotlight

Published: 18th February 2014 09:12 AM

Last Updated: 18th February 2014 09:40 AM

Social Media Week, a worldwide event that explores the economic, social and cultural impact of social media was launched on Monday in the city. The event will go on till February 21 at popular haunts in the city, that include Barleyz, City Bar, Fava, Hard Rock Café and The Leela Palace. The theme this year is ‘SocialMedia for SocialChange’.

While social media has taken over our lives systematically in the last decade, there’s also a growing concern that there may be a need for some form of self-censorship or even a regulatory body that can prevent embarrassing faux pas or malpractices among public figures.

“I’m completely in favour of freedom of expression. That said, I think, there’s a need for certain amount of responsibility on the part of citizens to ensure that what they say is authentic. Because the tendency now is to create rumour mongers, there’s a need for self-censorship. However it is the corporates and public figures that actually require some form of external regulation, so as to ensure that they are not doing anything unethical or beyond the public’s interests, for self gain. In the US and Europe, there are already strong regulations in place for public figures. It’s time we adopted them too,” says Ranjit Nair, CEO, Germin8 Solutions, who will speak at the week-long event on February 21.

Likewise, B Dayananda, additional commissioner of police (traffic), who shed light on ‘BTP on social Media - The Key Learnings and Challenges’ on Monday says, “I spoke about the objective of launching the Bangalore Traffic Police’s official page, the challenges that we faced and the process of establishing credibility.”

On whether there should be some form of self regulation of information put up on the social media, he says that external regulation is rather impractical.

“It’s very difficult. Any regulation has to be at the individual level. People in the public sphere and journalists too have gotten into trouble, lost jobs, so in my personal opinion, people have to think through what they put out.”

However, he firmly believes that as long as what is said isn’t unconstitutional, derogatory or vulgar, there’s no reason to censor it.

However, Joylita Saldanha, online product manager, Janaagraha begs to differ. She feels that social media content should be subjected to the same level of scrutiny as any other media.

“Frankly, I depend more on online sources (including social media) for news than on newspapers - the content there is a day old,” she says, adding, “If you wouldn’t stand in the middle of the street and shout out a racial comment, then there’s no reason why you should say it on social media. As for those who want to make a private joke on Facebook, they should be smart enough to regulate their privacy settings so that it is visible only to their friends.”

Rohit Varma, co-founder and managing partner, R Square Consulting, who is also organising Social Media Week in India, thinks that no form of regulation is necessary, whether it is regarding the regular public or the public officials that represent them.

“I think public officials in general are more cautious about what information they put out. Additionally, who is to take charge of the regulation? I don’t think the Government should have a say in who says what. People, however, should take it upon themselves to put out well-researched information,” says Varma.

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