They want government to come up with an effective surveillance system rather than imposing a blanket ban
The Union government seems to have little support in its standoff with the micro-blogging website Twitter.
Industry stakeholders at various levels who spoke to The Hindu share the futility of going for a blanket ban of the social media.
V. K. Mathews, executive member, Nasscom, says that a ban is not the way to control the negative fallout of any invention. He compares a ban on the social media to prohibition of surgeries for possible loss of lives.
“Instead, the government should expand its intelligence footprint in the cyberspace substantially to detect circulation of wrong news detrimental to national interest,” he says.
Joseph C. Mathew, IT adviser to V.S. Achuthanandan when he was Chief Minister, says that there is inherent contradiction when a government led by Manmohan Singh, who is one of the biggest advocates of globalisation, presides over a move to rein in social media.
It’s like admitting that they advocated globalisation only for the benefit of developed markets but didn’t want people to benefit from its good facets like cultural and information exchanges. Trying to plug information and communication that are viral and fast by their very nature through a ban is futile, he said.
“The government should counter misinformation campaigns through social media by giving out correct information. In spite of that, if people continue to be swayed by rumours then it’s time for the government to introspect about their governance rather than blaming the social media,” Mr. Mathew says.
Anoop P. Ambika, secretary of the Group of Technology Companies, says that any move to ban social media is unacceptable since democracy thrives on freedom of speech.
“Instead the government should come up with a very effective system that facilitates real time surveillance of posts in the social media to ensure that it confirms to the ethos of the country before the posts are shared and go viral. But that system should not hamper the spontaneity of social media, which is its biggest strength,” he says.
Sanjay Vijayakumar, chairman, Board of Governors of telecom incubator Startup Village, says that the social media are yet to become a phenomenon in India like in the U.S., where the telecom and social media decide the outcome of even presidential elections and the effectiveness of election campaigns. But the trends are visible and the social media will assume similar powers in another five years.
Noting that the social media are mostly used by youngsters, Mr. Vijayakumar says that there is an unspoken sentiment among the youth that the older generation is deciding what should go in the social media.
“Social media has the power to facilitate opinion making among people at lightening speed. On the flip side, anything could spread like wildfire creating panic. But then, one of the worst human tragedies in the history during the partition of the country took place during an era when there was no social media to spread panic. Honestly, no one has the right answer in dealing with the social media. For, never in the history of the mankind was there such seamless and fast exchange of information as is happening now,” Mr. Vijayakumar observes.
Vimal Raja, who runs a software firm The Good Folks, feels that the government has no right to pick and choose services its people can enjoy.
“What if we decline to pay taxes from tomorrow saying that we are dissatisfied with government services? And why Twitter alone? Why not ban everything that helps share information from newspapers to mobile phones,” he fumes.