Thursday November 21, 2019
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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
WhatsApp's moderators should have been able to find these groups and put a stop to them

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.

Facebook Into Data-Sharing Partnership With 52 Companies
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.

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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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Twitter Overflows with Praiseworthy Posts as Milkha Singh Turns 90

A user posted a 1958 picture of Milkha Singh defeating Pakistan athlete Abdul Khaliq in the 200 metre race to win gold in Tokyo Asian Games

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Twitter
One fan mentioned on Twitter that the Flying Sikh was the "Godfather of Indian Athletics". Pixabay

Twitter users heaped effusive praise as legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh turned 90 on Wednesday, with many posting throwback pictures depicting his sporting achievements and quotes.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wrote on his Twitter handle @capt_amarinder: “Happy birthday to the pride of Punjab & India, #MilkhaSingh Ji, who turns 90 today. Wish you the best of happiness & health, sir. “Urge my young friends to take inspiration from the #FlyingSikh and indulge in sports & fitness activities for a healthier life.”

Team India’s Twitter handle @WeAreTeamIndia wrote: “Sending out warm wishes to the legendary sporting icon, a serial sprint winner of his times and the one who is most rightfully known as the #FlyingSikh.”

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi wrote: “Wishing a very happy 90th birthday to #FlyingSikh, inspiration of Millions PadmaShri #MilkhaSingh ji.”

A user posted a 1958 picture of Milkha Singh defeating Pakistan athlete Abdul Khaliq in the 200 metre race to win gold in Tokyo Asian Games. He said: “In 1958 Abdul Khaliq was the fastest man in Asia. Happy Birthday Milkha Singh”.

Twitter
Twitter users heaped effusive praise as legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh turned 90 on Wednesday, with many posting throwback pictures depicting his sporting achievements and quotes. Wikimedia Commons

Another user listed out sporting achievements of the Padma Shri awardee.

“Independent India’s first athletes to win gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Wishing you a very happy birthday Milkha Singh”, wrote another user.

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One user said: “Milkha Singh (age 90 yrs now) don’t miss his important tip. No doctor no tablet”.

One fan mentioned that the Flying Sikh was the “Godfather of Indian Athletics”. (IANS)