Social Media – Misuse


Social Media has caught the imagination of People. People express their views on the social networking site. They now access social media through various application and devices. People invariably post information and express their opinion freely and openly on the social media. However sometimes the line is crossed when such information is posted without understanding the consequence of such instances. One way if we consider life has become very easy and easily assessable where people can get together and express their views on certain issues. It is one way very good where the views of the people are known to everyone. But sometimes the social media is misused where people post such comments which hurts the feelings of others and tiggers disharmony in a large scale. The Information technology Act, 2000, categorically makes one liable on any illegal content posted on social media. Section 66(A) of the Information and Technology Act 2000 states the punishment for sending such offensive messages. Section 66(A) defines the punishment for sending “offensive”messages through a computer or any other device like a mobile phone or a tablet.

The first Petition came up in the Court following the arrest of two girls in Maharashtra by Thane Police in November 2012 over a facebook post. The girls had made comments on the shutdown of Mumbai for the funeral of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thakeray.The arrest tiggered outrage from all the parts of India over the manner in which the cyber law was used.

In a different case in 2012, a Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was arrested for forwarding caricatures on Trinomial Congress Chief Mamta Banerjee on Face book.

In another case Aseem Trivedi was arrested for drawing cartoons lampooning Parliament and the Constitution to depict the ineffectiveness.

However the Supreme Court declared Section 66(A) of Information and Technology as unconstitutional. It has observed that the section has been widely misused. It laid down that it actually amounts to restraining citizens to exchange their views. This section has been misused by the police in various states to arrest innocent persons for posting critical comments about social and political issues and political leaders on social networking sites. The Court laid said such a law hit at the root of the liberty and freedom of expression, two cardinal pillars of Democracy. It said that it hit and went against the freedom of speech and expression which has been enshrined in the constitution. The Court however upheld the validity of section 69(B) and the 2011 guidelines for the implementation of the Information and Technology Act that allowed the government to block websites if their content had the potential to create communal disturbance, social disorder or affect India’s relationship with other countries.

The Supreme Court delivered the above judgement on the bunch of petition filed in the misuse of the Penal provisions by the Government authority .A Public Interest Litigation was filed by a Delhi student, Ms. Shreya Singhal taking into account the law. It was held that the phrase of the section 66(A) of the ITA, 2000 is so wide and vague and incapable of being so judged objectively. It also stands unconstitutional to some extent as it falls against the article 14, 19(1)(a) and the 21 of the Constitution

Social media is actually to express the views and opinions about any issues. Such rights should not be misused or overused. It is a duty or responsibility of every individual towards the society before posting anything in such social networking sites. In 2012, one of the early cases of misuse of social media came to the government’s attention, when morphed pictures and videos of earthquake victims began to go viral on the social media. Miscreants were morphing these images to show that these women were Muslim victims of civil riots in Assam and Burma. This was done to provoke further riots by vested interest and it did bring a reaction.

Another drawback of the Social Media is the evolution of adult videos or porn videos which are so easily accessible by minors, which is resulting in the changing behaviour of the society. Accessing the internet has become so easy these days that it is difficult to draw the line of restriction.






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