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India Shuts Down Social Media in Indian Kashmir to control widening Street protests and growing Violence in the Region

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Kashmiri students browse the internet on their mobile phones as they sits inside a restaurant in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 26, 2017. On Wednesday, authorities ordered internet service providers to block 16 social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and popular online chat applications for one month "in the interest of maintenance of public order." VOA

Indian authorities hope sweeping restrictions placed on social media in Indian Kashmir will help control widening street protests and growing violence in the region. But observers say the latest order will do little to stem growing alienation in the restive Himalayan region.

Authorities have shut down 22 social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter for a month. The official order asking internet service providers to block the sites said they are being used by “anti-national and subversive elements” for “vitiating peace and tranquility” in the state.

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Kashmir has often faced restrictions on the internet, and even mobile phone services have been shut at times. But the latest clampdown is much wider in its scope and comes as social media begins to play a larger role in an increasingly volatile situation in India’s only Muslim-majority region.

Viral videos

In the past three weeks, graphic videos claiming to show abuses by security forces have gone viral. The one getting the most attention shows a young man strapped to the front of an army jeep and paraded around villages in the region.

School and college students have emerged on the streets for the first time to join mobs throwing stones at security forces, and earlier this month, eight people were killed in a violence-marred parliamentary election.

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Officials say social media is not just being used to spread images, but also to rally crowds that attack security forces. A police officer in Kashmir, who did not want to be quoted, said the order will help check the spread of rumors.

Adding to the anger

However banning social media will do little to address the rising tide of anti-India sentiment, said Shujaat Bukhari, editor of the Rising Kashmir newspaper in Srinagar.

“If there is so much of anger, it actually adds to that anger, it does not help to recede (quell) that anger,” he said.

Pointing to the presence of students in street protests, he said, “Every section of society has now got involved into that churning where people think that they don’t have any allegiance to India, and they don’t like the country.”

Kashmiri students and other protesters throw stones at an Indian police vehicle as they clash with police in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 24, 2017.
Kashmiri students and other protesters throw stones at an Indian police vehicle as they clash with police in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 24, 2017. VOA

More than a decade of relative peace began deteriorating last summer in Kashmir after security forces killed local militant leader Burhan Wani. Analysts say this summer promises to be no different.

Colleges and schools in Kashmir have been shut for more than a week as India tries to quell the near daily protests.

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On Thursday, three Indian soldiers died and five others were injured in a pre-dawn attack on an army camp by militants in Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Two militants were also killed.

Delhi takes a hard line

Earlier this week, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, visited New Delhi and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open dialogue to contain the deteriorating situation in the state. She told reporters he wanted to hold talks after the situation normalizes.

Analysts say the Hindu nationalist federal government appears to be taking a hard line against the protesters.

Bukhari said the problem in Kashmir is larger than a social media problem.

“It is a political problem,” he said, “and as long as you continue to remain in denial mode like this and do not do anything political, these measures will not get you anywhere.” (VOA)

Next Story

Collective Attention Span Among People Decreases Rapidly as of 24/7 News Availability

"As a next step, it would be interesting to look into how this affects individuals, since the observed developments may have negative implications for an individual's ability to evaluate the information they consume," said researchers. 

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"Since the available amount of attention remains more or less the same, the result is that people are more rapidly made aware of something happening and lose interest more quickly. However, the study does not address attention span on the level of the individual person," Lehmann noted. Pixabay

People are losing their collective attention span rapidly owing to the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO), staying up-to-date on social media and breaking news coming at them 24/7 via various platforms, a team of European scientists has warned.

The study with first empirical evidence in the journal Nature Communications has found that our collective attention span is indeed narrowing and that this effect occurs not only on social media but also across diverse domains, including books, web searches and movie popularity.

FOMO is social anxiety characterised by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.

“It seems the allocated attention in our collective minds has a certain size, but the cultural items competing for that attention have become densely packed. “This would support the claim that it has indeed become difficult to stay up-to-date on the news cycle, for example,” said Professor Sune Lehmann from Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

social media
The study with first empirical evidence in the journal Nature Communications has found that our collective attention span is indeed narrowing and that this effect occurs not only on social media but also across diverse domains, including books, web searches and movie popularity. Pixabay

To reach this conclusion, the scientists studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years.

In addition, they gathered data from Google Trends (2010-2018), Reddit (2010-2015) and Wikipedia (2012-2017).

When looking into the global daily top 50 hashtags on Twitter, scientists found that peaks became increasingly steep and frequent. In 2013, a hashtag stayed in the top 50 for around 17.5 hours and gradually decreased to 11.9 hours in 2016.

The trend is mirrored in other domains, online and offline as well.

“Since the available amount of attention remains more or less the same, the result is that people are more rapidly made aware of something happening and lose interest more quickly. However, the study does not address attention span on the level of the individual person,” Lehmann noted.

twitter
To reach this conclusion, the scientists studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years. 
Pixabay

The study was conducted by a team of European scientists from Technische Universitat Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, University College Cork and DTU.

Also Read: New Survey Indicates, Indians Most Worry About Terrorism, Unemployment And Corruption

“As a next step, it would be interesting to look into how this affects individuals, since the observed developments may have negative implications for an individual’s ability to evaluate the information they consume,” said researchers.

Acceleration increases, for example, the pressure on journalists’ ability to keep up with an ever-changing news landscape. “We hope more research in this direction will inform the way we design new communication systems,” the team said. (IANS)