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“Meme Culture” on Social Media Platforms Seems Losing Its Light Humour Value

To identify and track notorious users who enjoy creating public upheaval through threads and memes, Twitter is planning to add a feature that will show the origin of a viral content on its platform.

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To identify and track notorious users who enjoy creating public upheaval through threads and memes, Twitter is planning to add a feature that will show the origin of a viral content on its platform. Pixabay

With the number of smartphone users steadily growing and data packs getting dramatically cheaper in India, the “meme culture” on social media platforms seems to be losing its harmless and light humour value.

Now, comical or satirical representation of social issues — memes — have emerged as flag-bearers of dark humour and untraceable digital revenge that can spread within fractions of seconds and potentially cause irreversible damage to the targeted people and organisations.

Experts are now warning that unchecked use of memes could disturb the social fabric in India, saying that the “meme culture” in the country seems to have blurred the line between harmless light jocularity and insensitive detrimental mockery.

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Fuelled by digitalisation, memes also help to keep over 250 million social media users in India updated on news on day-to-day happenings. Pixabay

Shared in massive volumes, it is virtually impossible to determine the number of memes that are created and circulated in one day.

Fuelled by digitalisation, memes also help to keep over 250 million social media users in India updated on news on day-to-day happenings.

“With the rise of Generation-Z (the demographic cohort after the millennials), we have seen the birth and evolution of meme culture and since they can be created, shared, consumed and disseminated wittily, they can spread swiftly into popular culture due to the ease in sharing,” Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research (CMR) told IANS.

However, not everything is funny. From representation of a young beggar-boy addicted to drugs to homophobia, celebrity babies, animals tied to explosives — sadistic dark memes are now sparing none, no cause, no event, whatsoever.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, along with messaging platform WhatsApp, have emerged as the favourite platforms for bulk circulation of meme-content in the country.

“Memes are influencing us in our social spheres and given that they are ambiguous and need visual interpretation, it is tough to trace, and hold their creators to account,” Ram said.

It is observed that to earn profits and maximise engagement on their pages, some creators spread fake or provocative news, harmful content and social negativity via memes.

With the cricket World Cup just months away and India gearing up for its general elections, memes with debatable statements against other countries and political agendas have already started making the rounds in the country.

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Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, along with messaging platform WhatsApp, have emerged as the favourite platforms for bulk circulation of meme-content in the country. Pixabay

“While for Gen-Z, it is a means to provide a healthy nuanced critique of the times we live in, it also has the potential to spread disharmony in the social fabric, if left unchecked,” Ram added.

Thankfully, recognising the damage that memes are capable of causing, social media platforms have started to enforce strict measures against pages that promote derogatory memes on serious issues like rapes, casteism, sexism, pornography, drugs and politics.

To identify and track notorious users who enjoy creating public upheaval through threads and memes, Twitter is planning to add a feature that will show the origin of a viral content on its platform.

Based on pubic reviews, Instagram and Facebook have warned admins or block questionable pages that use supposedly funny memes to promote drugs, self harm or politically incorrect ideas.
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This has led admins of controversial meme pages on Facebook as well as on Instagram to increase layers of account-security, requiring people in some cases to first request access to the locked pages before they could view the content.

Given the persuasive power, unending reach and mostly negative agendas associated with a large number of memes, stricter the controls around harmful memes become — without going to the extent of censoring free speech — better it would be for the society. (IANS)

Next Story

Mass Shooting in New Zealand: Facebook Still Working to Remove All Videos

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday's shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, In this March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook is continuing to work to remove all video of the mass shooting in New Zealand which the perpetrator livestreamed Friday, the company said Sunday.

“We will continue working directly with New Zealand Police as their response and investigation continues,” Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand said in a statement Sunday.

Garlick said that the company is currently working to remove even edited versions of the original video which do not contain graphic content, “Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities.”

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Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook. Pixabay

In the 24 hours following the mass shooting, which left 50 people dead, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack, of which 1.2 million were blocked at upload, the company said.

Facebook’s most recent comments follow criticism of the platform after the shooter not only livestreamed the 17 graphic minutes of his rampage, using a camera mounted on his helmet, but also had posted a 74-page white supremacist manifesto on Facebook.

Earlier Sunday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that there were “further questions to be answered” by Facebook and other social media platforms.

FILE - New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on live television following fatal shootings at two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. VOA

“We did as much as we could to remove or seek to have removed some of the footage that was being circulated in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. Ultimately, though, it has been up to those platforms to facilitate their removal and support their removal,” she said.

The attack came during Friday prayers when the Al Noor Mosque and the nearby Linwood Mosque were filled with hundreds of worshippers. The victims of Friday’s shooting included immigrants from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia. (VOA)