Saturday September 22, 2018
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Social Media A Medium For Evil? No Remedy To Escape

Monitoring private conversations/messages is illegal.

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WhatsApp to train users on dangers of fake news as well.
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What do we do with social media which instead of being a force for good has very often tended to become a medium for evil, pure evil? The lynching of five people in Dhule district of Maharashtra on Sunday has come on the back of many such incidents of mob violence in several parts of the country. In all such incidents of gruesome killings of innocents on false pretexts, the authorities were generally rendered helpless. There is very little they could have done to prevent the rumour-monger from setting off a chain of events sitting in the privacy of his home and punching a few words on the keyboard of his smart phone.

Monitoring private conversations/messages is illegal. In any case, even if they wanted to, it is hard to police the social media. The ubiquitous smart phone has also become a source of great menace, jeopardising the lives of innocents and even triggering widespread riots and violence. The lynching of the five people in the tribal hamlet of Rainpada in Sakri talkua occurred on the suspicion that they were child-abductors. The local police said that the villagers attending a weekly market got enraged when one of the five victims alighting from a bus was seen talking to a little girl. Suspecting him to be the child kidnappers, the social media posts had warned them about, they pounced on him and the four others who alighted from the bus and killed them on the spot. Inquiries later revealed that all five were nomads who had come to the Sunday market to beg for alms.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

A police party which reached the spot from the district headquarters after over an hour, too, was attacked, with the people protesting that little was done to check the activities of child-lifters. Apparently, social media posts had spread rumours that gangs of child kidnappers were active in the area who forced children to beg in big towns or used them for organ harvesting. Last month, two persons were lynched in Vajipur taluka of Aurangabad district of the State on suspicion of their being robbers. Eight people were arrested for these murders. In Sunday’s incident, the police had registered a case of murder and rioting and named twelve in the FIR while it was investigating the role of several others. Yet, social media menace is universal.

A few weeks ago, two educated youths exploring the flora and fauna of a verdant place in Assam were waylaid and thrashed to death by an angry mob which suspected them to be part of a gang of child-lifters. In Assam itself a few weeks earlier, a post on a social media platform by a jealous trader about a fellow trader selling beef had led to rioting in which the shop falsely accused of selling beef was burnt down. Such incidents of mob violence sparked off by false rumours on social media have been reported from all parts of the country. Ironically, a young person hired by the authorities in Tripura to quell rumours on social media about child abductors was himself lunched by a mob.

Also read: Hookah Smoking Posts on Social Media Promote The Habit, Here’s How

Unfortunately, there is no immediate remedy against the spreading of false rumours as long as the cell phone is handily available to all comers regardless of their mental state, education and sense of social and moral responsibility. The strength of the most commonly used internet platform, WhatsApp, lies in its secrecy, its encryption. Everyone seems to be on WhatsApp as part of one group or the other. It is hard to imagine that short of directing the telecom service providers to deny internet services to people lacking a school-leaving certificate, if anything can be done to check the violent abuse of social media. Social awareness and civic sense does not come easy to a large number of people, especially when they happen to be seeped in utter ignorance and remain cut off from the mainstream. However, as a first step all telecom service providers in conjunction with the district police and civil authorities should undertake a vigorous campaign to warn people against rumour-mongering and fake news and prescribe severe punishment for offenders. (IANS)

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Facebook Birthday Feature Raises Money For Charity

Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

When Behnoush Babzani turned 35, she threw a party. She also used her birthday to ask friends to donate to a cause she cares about deeply: helping people who need bone marrow transplants.

She herself received a bone marrow transplant from her brother.

“It’s not that my body was making cancerous cells, it was that my body was making no cells,” she said. “So think about the boy in the bubble. I had to be isolated. I didn’t have an immune system to protect me.”

Using a new feature on Facebook, Babzani in a few clicks posted a photo of herself in a hospital gown when she was receiving treatment and she asked her friends to help raise $350.

New way to raise money for causes

Facebook has always been a convenient way to send birthday wishes to friends. Now users have started taking advantage of a new feature introduced a year ago by the popular social networking site to turn birthday wishes into donations to help a favorite cause.

It’s turned into a huge success for charities. In its first year, Facebook’s birthday fundraiser feature raised more than $300 million for charities around the world. With a new revenue source, some charities are rethinking some of their standard fundraising activities.

The success of the Facebook birthday feature comes as social media users have begun to question how internet services connecting friends and family around the world have also become a mechanism for some to spread hate or influence foreign elections.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

Networks used to spread hate

Along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, testified in the U.S. Senate recently about steps the company has taken to identify and remove posts that violate the company’s terms of service.

“We were too slow to spot this, and too slow to act. That is on us,” Sandberg told the Senate committee.

Yet, the birthday fundraiser feature shows the power of using social media for good, says Facebook spokeswoman, Roya Winner.

“It gives people who are celebrating a birthday, a chance to turn that day into something that’s bigger than themselves,” she said.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the biggest receivers

Some of the biggest recipients have been St. Jude, the children’s hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, No Kid Hungry, which focuses on child hunger in the U.S., and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the days that followed, Behnoush surpassed her goal, raising more than $1,700. Her social network became an army pulling together to do good.

Rescuing sea lions

Two weeks before his 65th birthday, Stan Jensen, retired from working in sales at a Silicon Valley firm, received a message from Facebook asking if he wanted to mark the occasion of his birthday by dedicating the day to a cause. He did.

He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, where he volunteers once a week helping injured sea lions.

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He turned to 1,400 Facebook friends to help raise money for the Marine Mammal Center in Northern California. Flickr

He raised $2,300.

“It surpassed my wildest dreams,” he said, and he let his friends know they made a difference.

“You’ve bought a ton of fish,” he told them. “You are feeding all the animals we have on site for several days.”

Also Read: At St. Teresa Charity Home, Out of 450 Births only 170 are in Record

His birthday is coming up again, and the sea lions are always hungry. He’s perfecting his pitch: “I know I’m special to you, but I’d like just the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Just $5. Please.” (VOA)