fbpx
Thursday, March 4, 2021

How social media 'shifted' India's focus to Abhinandan's release

The hectic activity on social media contributed to derailing the counter-terror measures that the government had initiated after the Pulwama attack

Reading Time: 3 minutesThe hysteria unleashed on social media platforms after Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s plane crashed in Pakistani territory on February 27 is partly responsible for the sudden shift in focus from fighting cross-border terrorism to bringing the pilot back home, experts believe.
The country erupted into joyous celebration following Varthaman’s release after spending over 60 hours in Pakistani captivity.


“Social media did help to build pressure on Pakistan to quickly release the pilot which is excellent. But the hectic activity on social media contributed to derailing the counter-terror measures that the government had initiated after the Pulwama attack on February 14 that killed 40 CRPF troopers,” Pavan Duggal, one of the nation’s top cyber law experts, said.
In a video circulated on social media, the IAF pilot was shown as demonstrating great courage in withholding sensitive information, including his whereabouts in India. However, social media users wasted no time in giving away that information, without realising that whatever they posted were available for a global audience.
“Indian social media users did not exercise the restraint that they were supposed to have in times like these. They were posting without understanding their ramifications. The way they were circulating information, most of which were fake, demonstrated that they became victims of psychological warfare controlled by foreign powers,” Duggal said.
“Abhinandan was part of a broader strategy, but that broader strategy receded into the background partly due to the hectic activity on social media,” he said, adding, that a lot of what the mainstream media showed was somehow linked to content on social media.
Leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy agreed with Duggal when he said that much of the information that was moving fast in social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook was neither genuine nor true.


“We have seen a flurry of fake information and edited videos being circulated on social media from both sides of the border,” Roy said, adding that some of that information circulated in social media might have been very painful to the family of the Indian pilot who was captured in Pakistan.
“The impact of social media has been overwhelmingly negative during the period following India’s an air strike targeting terror camps in Pakistan on February 26,” he added.
So what happens when people do not exercise self-restraint in a situation like the one India faced over the past 10 days? “In such a case when self-regulation becomes ineffective, it will be a good idea to come up with specific guidelines which should govern the behaviour and the acts done on social media during important moments of our national interest,” Duggal said.
“We have in place something called Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 which often asks service providers to inform people not to do certain activities on their platform. “But the IT Rules 2011 don’t have teeth. I think there should be now a dedicated provision for legal consequences should you violate these provisions,” Duggal noted.
Overall, he said, this episode can be seen as a learning experience for social media users as this is the first time they were confronted with a situation of this magnitude and importance.
“Social media users should become warriors for the country rather than impacting India’s sovereign interest. At the same time, the government should also not be influenced by the change in the course of social media discourses,” Duggal said.
IANS

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

0
Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Latest News

sexual assault survivor, sexual assault counsellor, sexual assault victim

I’m a sexual assault counsellor. Here’s why it’s so hard for...

0
  As a senior sexual assault counsellor working with Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, I often sit across from people on the worst day of...
dee domingo and raj shekhawat

A tinnitus update on World Hearing Day

0
  World Hearing Day is celebrated on 3 March to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness along with promoting ear care. I spoke to...
RITU WEDS CHANDNI BOOK COVER

Book Review: ‘Ritu weds Chandni’ by Ameya Narvankar

0
  "But what is wrong with that? Why shouldn't she marry Chandni didi?," asks Ayesha, the young protagonist in Ameya Narvankar's Ritu weds Chandni. The innocent...
axar patel indian cricket player

IND v ENG: A historic Test… for all the wrong reasons

0
  The only bigger joke than the wicket prepared for the 3rd cricket Test between England and India at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium, was the renaming...
Queer support group Trikone Australia’s Alan Maurice, Kunal Mirchandani and Ravin chat with Bageshri Savyasachi

South Asians talking about Mardi Gras

0
  Pride week has already begun in Australia! Since Sydney's fabulous Mardi Gras parade is coming up this weekend, I had a chat with members...