Why We All Have A Personal Responsibility To Make The Internet Free Of Hate

Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

Hate speech is hardly a new phenomenon on social media. As we enter an increasingly more digital world, communication through social media has become more important than ever. The way we communicate is evolving. From rallies to revolutions, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can do more today than just host memes and fake news. However, along with this, the presence of hate groups and hate speech online is also growing.

Social media has changed quite a lot these days. I first joined Facebook in 2010 and have used it extensively since that time. But the picture has completely changed: the Facebook of today has a number of differences with the Facebook of 2010. The number of users are growing everyday as we move towards technological advancement and digitalisation. But have we really become advanced? I don’t think so. We may have technological development but we have a long way to go in terms of developing ourselves. We still don’t know how to respect ethics while using the internet. This is one of the reasons hate speech on social media is spreading like wildfire.

If we closely observe the ones who spread hate on social media sites, then most of the time, we find them aligned with certain political parties. These kind of people are very active in spreading hate against rival parties on social media. Now a serious question arises here – is our politics encouraging us to become hateful? Are politics the reason behind the spreading of hate on social media?

I don’t want to bring up a specific example but we have all witnessed the occasions when the internet was flooded with hateful posts and these were all linked to political incidents. In my opinion, everyone has at least someone in their friend-list who vouch for one political position or another and is busy defaming their opponents.

Now, a question that needs to be asked is whether they are being paid for spreading hate online. Do they have salaries for posting hateful content and fake news? Do their political masters encourage them to do that? Or do they do these things for their personal satisfaction? Whatever the answer may be, such actions tarnish our image of being ‘technologically advanced’. We just end up looking immature.

I don’t think that social networking sites like Facebook are bad for us. It’s a great medium to communicate and stay in touch with the entire world. Such sites give us the opportunity to share our ideas or thoughts just by a single click. It has changed us our ways of thinking, reacting and sharing things. We have all got a platform where we can easily talk about our likes and dislikes.

Social media not only lets us make new friends but also explore ourselves. But at the same time, we should be ethical in our use of these sites. We may have ideological disagreements but there is a proper way to debate and argue. Putting out false stories is not that way. Besides it’s an insult to one’s own intelligence.

I would also like to appeal to our political parties to take this matter as a serious concern. They should make sure that none of their party leaders, workers, volunteers or others who are directly or indirectly engaged with them do not go around spreading hate on social media.

At the same time, I realise my appeal is worthless because many times, we have also seen political leaders engaged in spreading fake news and hateful content. But still, I’m optimistic.

An equal amount of responsibility lies with mass media such as TV news. They should also be making people aware and be careful that they do not spread any false stories to gain TRPs.

Also, to those in charge of managing social media websites, they too have a responsibility and they can also fix certain strict guidelines and boundaries for users.

Lastly, but most importantly, our government and law-makers can also implement some measures that will be helpful in stopping the spreading of hate on the internet.

We should also take individual responsibility towards stopping hate on internet. We need to become aware and improve our mindsets. Unless we do that, no law is going to be able to help.

To conclude, I would just like to say that social media sites are not a platform for spreading hate; they are mediums to preach love and harmony.  Politics should be in their proper place. Discussion and debate can be held on social media but we should not resort to name-calling. It’s our responsibility to make an effort towards managing all this. Because the internet is not a place for hate.

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