Tuesday May 21, 2019
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Fundamentalists eclipsing democracy in Bangladesh

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Kolkata: Expressing concern over the atrocious rise of fundamentalist power in Bangladesh eminent Ajoy Roy, the father of slain secularist writer-blogger Avijit Roy, on Tuesday urged the youth to thwart the threat and uphold democracy.

Participating in a discussion on “Intolerance and Democracy” at Calcutta University, Ajoy Roy said Bangladesh was going through tough times where fundamentalists were running the show and wiping out the secular fabric and democracy in the country.

“Fundamentalists have now eclipsed free thinking and are now devouring the society. If we don’t stand up now, then I have to say, Bangladesh’s democracy is in real danger.”

“There is no alternative unless stopped, they will wipe out secularism, they will wipe out democracy,” he said.

Expressing deep anguish and grief over the killing of his son and other bloggers, Roy urged the youth to stand up against communal forces and take up arms if the need be.

“Our only hope now is the youth. But then, only writing or words will not suffice. We need to build a movement, we need to hit the streets. The onus is now on the youth to carry forward the legacy of our freedom fighters and save our country.”

“If the need be, they (youth) should be ready to take up arms against these elements.”

“When fundamentalists are charging towards you with swords, how do you counter them? You need to talk to them in a language which they understand,” he exhorted.

Besides Avijit Roy, three other bloggers — Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Das and Niladri Chatterjee Niloy — were hacked to death by Islamist militants.

All four bloggers were involved with the ‘Ganajagaran Mancha’, a movement demanding maximum penalty for those who committed war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh freedom struggle and a ban on religion-based politics.

On the occasion, historians Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar expressed grave concern over the growing influence of Hindutva outfits, including the RSS and the VHP, and asserted intolerance was steadily rising since the advent of the Narendra Modi government.

“As writers or historians, we don’t know which of our work will enrage the Hindutva outfits and we will have to face their wrath.

“It would not be far-fetched to say that had Bhagat Singh been alive today and if he had written his last book ‘Why I am an Atheist’ now, maybe he would have met the same fate as Govind Pansare,” said Tanika Sarkar.

Referring to the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, Tanika Sarkar congratulated all those who had returned their awards in protests against the growing intolerance.(IANS)

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Facebook Announces its First Grants for Research on Social Media’s Impact on Democracy

For the study, more than 60 researchers were chosen from 30 academic institutions across 11 countries through a competitive peer review process by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the independent group Social Science One

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facebook, social media's democracy
Facebook said it did not play any role in the selection of the individuals or their projects and will have no role in directing the findings or conclusions of the research. Pixabay

Facebook has announced its first grants for independent research on social media’s impact on democracy that will investigate, among other things, the role of technology platforms in spread of misinformation.

Social media platforms have come under intense scrutiny around the world ever since allegations surfaced of Russian-linked accounts trying to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

For the study, more than 60 researchers were chosen from 30 academic institutions across 11 countries through a competitive peer review process by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the independent group Social Science One.

facebook, social media's democracy, elections
The projects also seek to provide a richer understanding of the relationship between social media platforms like Facebook and traditional news media, it added. Pixabay

These researchers will gain access to privacy-protected Facebook data.

“We hope this initiative will deepen public understanding of the role social media has on elections and democracy and help Facebook and other companies improve their products and practices,” Elliot Schrage, Vice President for Special Projects at Facebook and the company’s Strategic Initiatives Manager Chaya Nayak wrote in a blog post on Monday.

Facebook said it did not play any role in the selection of the individuals or their projects and will have no role in directing the findings or conclusions of the research.

social media's democracy, facebook
Social media platforms have come under intense scrutiny around the world ever since allegations surfaced of Russian-linked accounts trying to influence the 2016 US presidential election. Pixabay

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These grantees will seek to use access to Facebook data to better explain how political news is shared in European multiparty political systems and to understand how social events or technology platform changes influence communication behaviour such as spreading disinformation, among other issues, SSRC said.

The projects also seek to provide a richer understanding of the relationship between social media platforms like Facebook and traditional news media, it added. (IANS)