Perils of Unfettered Social Media
A daunting challenge we must mount
In 2017, a research conducted in 33 countries revealed that Facebook-owned platforms reached 86 percent of their internet-users between the ages of 16 and 64. If not the internet itself, these platforms effectively acted as a gateway to the internet there. Today, by all means, outreach of social media is gargantuan. These platforms also provide a stage for democratic debates. However, early optimism about the potential of social media for providing unhindered access to information, and giving voice to those who were traditionally marginalized or censored, is eroding. Owing to its unregulated nature, a number of perils have attached with it. Vulnerability to political exploitation, spreading mis- and disinformation, facilitation for hate speech, targeted marginalization of minorities, exacerbating polarization of civil society, and unprecedented capturing of personal data are some manifest plagues. Nonetheless, there is also a bright side of the story. The same platforms do also provide global connectivity to people, offer access to information, ensure freedom of speech, and facilitate working from home or running businesses online. However, owing to the growing abuse of social media, concerted efforts from all concerned quarters to transform social media into a safer platform are need of the hour.
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