By Ripan(R) Sethi and Ritesh(R) Chugh
Media is perceived as the fourth pillar of any democracy around the world as it bridges the gap between the other three pillars – Parliament, Administration and Judiciary. However, traditionally media has largely been uni-directional communication, where the general populace would mainly consume the information provided by the media providers. Social media, in the last few years, has changed the overall dynamics of communication. It has given consumers a voice to present their opinion and anything that is drafted with some amount of accuracy has a chance of getting echoed very quickly – referred to as ‘going viral’ in social media terms.
Social media provides a voice to the common man and the ability to reach out to thousands of people. Hence, it also calls for responsible usage of social media. Some of you may remember the popular quote by Uncle Ben from the Spider-Man series ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ and RR believe it should be embedded into a Social Media Gospel. This may ensure people understand the impact their voice/opinions can make on social media. If the quality of social media posts is ignored, the voice easily turns into noise, hence losing its credibility. There are numerous examples where photo-shopping skills have been used to tarnish someone’s reputation and the inherent traceability challenge of the Internet world lets perpetrators get away with it easily. So, what can be done about it? Simple – before you add your valuable thoughts to any social media posts – check the source of your information as you do not want to be the source of misinformation! If it has come from an untraceable source or sounds too good to be true – take it with a pinch of salt and steer away from it instead of fuelling its viral cycle by forwarding it amongst your network. Obviously,it’s not always easy to hold back on a humorous Internet meme.
We all know how businesses are increasingly concerned about their online reputation as consumers greatly rely on customer comments, feedback, and reviews to decide on the recipient of their hard-earned cash. However, if the customers themselves start posting erratic, irresponsible and uninformed comments by abusing their freedom of speech, it will pose a conundrum. Furthermore, concepts such as ‘click or like’ farms where cheap human labour and automated programs are used to get non-genuine likes on pages and posts appear to be on the rise. This will lead to social media users losing faith in such content. And remember social media users are smart! A sudden surge in your Facebook page likes is seen with suspicion.
Also be wary, once it’s up on the Internet, it can’t be taken down easily. Be mindful of any legal ramifications your comments on others pages may have. You may deem an opinion acceptable under the freedom of speech banner but it may be offensive to others. Whilst laws on what can and can’t be posted are not crystal clear for the ever-evolving social media platforms, ignorance is not accepted as an excuse in courts. Moreover, it is also vital to consider the impact a strong opinion, yet negative for some, can have on your career as more and more organisations have started to screen social media as part of their hiring process.
In summary, take a leaf out of Spider Man’s book and use your powers responsibly.