Uncontrolled social media misused by enemy for info warfare!

Rohit Chandavarkar
Saturday, 2 March 2019

Is it time to put some control on the menace of spreading rumours and war mongering on social media handles?

After the return of India’s hero wing commander Abhinandan back home and after the tension between India and Pakistan somewhat got defused over the weekend, a social media message posted by some journalist in a lighter vain said “Imran Khan has sent a message to the Indian Prime Minister saying your Air Force can bomb us if you want; but please control your social media army, we just cannot take their trolls anymore”!

Jokes apart but for people of our generation who have seen many military conflicts between India and Pakistan including the Kargil war, this time what created even more anxiety for crores of Indians was social media and the frenzy witnessed on television media. The last time India went into a military conflict was in the Kargil war and there was no social media at that time. This 2019 military conflict was the first which happened since over 60 crore Indians have acquired smart phones and are engaged all the time on social media.

Much has been already talked about how national television media in India got almost into war mongering over the past 10 to 14 days and created so much hype and jingoism that even senior war veterans and retired defence officers expressed displeasure over it.

While speaking on a national channel Air Chief Marshal ( R) Anil Tipnis said that he is really very concerned about the jingoism and hype created by some national news television which is making India look like the villain in the eyes of the international community. “We are actually the good guys but the way some news channels are presenting the situation it makes us look like we are the bad guys. The other side has looked more civilised” Air Chief Marshal Tipnis said. Clearly the news rooms over the past few days looked like ‘war-rooms’ with anchors shouting at the top of their voice and creating war hysteria.

Social media has been even worse in terms of spread of rumours, spread of hyper nationalistic messages and false information or doctored images. Much of this has been politically motivated and has caused extreme ideological polarisation in the society. Some videos of wing commander Abhinandan after his aircraft landed in enemy territory went viral and spread like wild fire. These videos were not in national interest in fact they helped Pakistan in the information warfare.

On coming Monday, India’s parliamentary panel has called some heads of companies that run social media to discuss the measures of how to control the menace of social media’s rumour mongering which has caused social violence and unrest in the past.

Times has come for India to think about how the menace of social media can be controlled. Misinformation campaigns and blatant political propaganda using false information have been undertaken by certain domestic forces as well as foreign enemy forces through social media in the past few days. This is now taking shape similar to the Hindu mythological demon figure of “Bhasmasura” unless social media is put under some control our social fabric and harmony would be under threat. 

Times has come for India to think about how the menace of social media can be controlled. Misinformation campaigns and blatant political propaganda using false information have been undertaken by certain domestic forces as well as foreign enemy forces through social media in the past few days. This is now taking shape similar to the Hindu mythological demon figure of “Bhasmasura” unless social media is put under some control our social fabric and harmony would be under threat.

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