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Can Social Media Control “Objectionable Content” And “Political Bias” From Its Platforms?

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp intensified its fight against misinformation soon after dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year were linked to rumours spread on its platform.

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Facebook's political ad tracking has gone live for India, showing ad spends from the parties and their affiliates. Pixabay

Major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are aware of the damage fake news can cause to the election process in India. But none has one simple solution to eliminate the impact that misinformation can have on millions of voters.

After facing flak from the government, social media giants are in a huddle and have devised some tools and launched a few initiatives to fight fake news and political bias, in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.

China-based popular video social networking app TikTok has also reached out to the Election Commission to comply with its instructions and establish an escalation channel, abiding by the model code of conduct.

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According to Twitter’s Global Vice President of Public Policy, Colin Crowell, Twitter has now put in place a dedicated team for maintaining site integrity and focused on cleaning manipulation networks that might affect the voting process in India. Pixabay

“We have also informed Election Commission that we will not serve any paid political advertisements on our platforms in India throughout this election period,” ByteDance, which operates social media apps such as TikTok and Helo, said in a statement shared with IANS.

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp intensified its fight against misinformation soon after dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year were linked to rumours spread on its platform.

From launching awareness programmes on dangers of fake news on TV, radio and digital platforms to limiting the number of forwards to five, the messaging platform has introduced several measures.

“We’re pleased that the recent changes we’ve made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact. This work is never done — there is more that we can and will do,” WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose said in a statement this week.

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This not even social media players are sure of as, in their own words, there is much more to be done on this front. Pixabay

WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook is also banking on a multi-pronged strategy to fight fake news ahead of the elections. From verifying political ads to expanding the third-party fact checkers programme in India and making information labelled as fake less visible on News Feed, the social media giant has taken several measures to reduce the impact of misinformation.

Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, said recently that the company was establishing a task force comprising “hundreds of people” in the country to prevent bad actors from abusing its platform.

Facebook’s political ad tracking has gone live for India, showing ad spends from the parties and their affiliates.

Micro-blogging site Twitter, which earlier faced accusations of being “slow” in removing “objectionable content” and “political bias” from its platform, has started showing billing details of political ads as its Ads Transparency Center for the country went live this week.

According to Twitter’s Global Vice President of Public Policy, Colin Crowell, Twitter has now put in place a dedicated team for maintaining site integrity and focused on cleaning manipulation networks that might affect the voting process in India.

Also Read: Facebook Partners with Top Music Labels in India

Would these efforts deter the unofficial troll army of political parties from posting misinformation?

This not even social media players are sure of as, in their own words, there is much more to be done on this front. (IANS)

Next Story

Know Why Parents Should Worry About Their Daughters’ Perfect Selfies

Why parents should worry about girls' perfect selfies

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Adolescent girls who invest a lot of time in editing and selecting the selfies to post are mostly body insecure. Pixabay

Parents, please take note. Researchers have recently found that adolescent girls who invest a lot of time in editing and selecting the perfect selfie may feel more body shame and appearance anxiety.

Published in the Journal of Children and Media, the research showed that when adolescent girls spend too much time agonising over which photo of themselves to post, or rely heavily on editing apps to alter their images, there may be a cause for concern.

The study found that selfie editing and time invested in creating and selecting the perfect one, were both related to self-objectification, which led to body shame, appearance anxiety and more negative appearance evaluations in teen girls.

“Our main finding was that we really shouldn’t be too worried about kids who take selfies and share them; that’s not where the negative effects come from. It’s the investment and the editing that yielded negative effects,” said senior study author Jennifer Stevens Aubrey from University of Arizona in the US.

“Selfie editing and selfie investment predicted self-objectification, and girls who self-objectify were more likely to feel shameful about their bodies or anxious about their appearance,” Aubrey added. The findings were based on a study of 278 teenage girls, ages 14 to 17.

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“Our main finding was that we really shouldn’t be too worried about kids who take selfies and share them; that’s not where the negative effects come from,” said the researchers. Pixabay

They also responded to a series of statements designed to measure how much time and effort they spend selecting which selfies to share on social media – what researchers referred to in the paper as their level of “selfie investment.”

In addition, the girls completed a series of questionnaires designed to measure their levels of self-objectification and appearance concerns. The researchers said they chose to focus on adolescent girls because they are especially vulnerable to self-objectification.

Girls also are more likely than boys to experience negative consequences, such as body image issues, as the result of self-objectification, which can in turn lead to problems like depression and eating disorders, the researchers said. “Self-objectification is the pathway to so many things in adolescence that we want to prevent,” Aubrey said.

Also Read- Early Exposure of Infants To Household Cleaning Products Can Make Them Prone To Asthma

The researchers said parents and caregivers of adolescent girls should be aware of red flags on teens’ phones, such as selfie editing apps or camera rolls teeming with selfies. If a teen seems to be selfie-obsessed, it might be time for a talk, they added. (IANS)