Tuesday January 21, 2020
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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

US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Also Read: I Fall in Love with India Every Time I Return Here: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)