By Vivek Bhargav
Edward O Wilson, a professor of Sociobiology, in a debate on the Harvard Museum of Pure Historical past on 9 September 2009, stated, “The actual drawback of humanity is the next: we now have paleolithic feelings, medieval establishments, and god-like expertise.” That’s, whereas individuals are in a position to shortly know what’s taking place the world over in just a few seconds, this info from “god-like expertise” is being (non)regulated by way of “medieval establishments” and processed by people with “paleolithic feelings.” Though folks have moved from the binary distinction of “black-and-white” in the direction of “grey,” it’s to be acknowledged that there might be “infinite shades of grey,” with shades of grey distinct for every particular person, establishment, and nation-state.
Social Media’s Potential Affect on Battle and Discrimination
In a globalized world, the immense affect of social media platforms can inadvertently contribute to the amplification of battle and discrimination towards non secular and ethnic teams. This phenomenon shouldn’t be restricted to India however has worldwide implications. Whereas these platforms function highly effective instruments for communication and data sharing, they’ll inadvertently facilitate the unfold of dangerous content material because of their far-reaching accessibility and ease of use. To deal with these issues, social media corporations should undertake a delicate, collaborative, and context-specific strategy.
Recognizing the intricate cultural contexts during which content material circulates is essential. This entails coaching content material reviewers to understand various cultural nuances and keep away from hasty judgments which will overlook the complicated dynamics of sure occasions. Collaboration with native consultants, together with non secular leaders and civil society organizations, is subsequently pivotal. By partaking with these stakeholders, platforms can achieve invaluable insights into the historic, non secular, and societal dimensions of delicate points. This knowledgeable perspective has the potential of enhancing the platform’s skill to know and mitigate potential impacts on varied communities.
Furthermore, the linguistic variety in India, with 22 official languages, necessitates a multilingual strategy to content material moderation. This ensures correct assessments that contemplate contextual elements and scale back the possibilities of misinterpretation because of language boundaries. Empowering customers to actively contribute to a safer on-line surroundings is important. Consumer-friendly reporting mechanisms needs to be established, enabling customers to flag probably dangerous content material associated to non secular or ethnic teams. Encouraging customers to supply further context when reporting can help content material reviewers in making well-informed selections.
In occasions of disaster, speedy response instruments play a significant function. Platforms ought to have mechanisms to swiftly alert customers in affected areas with verified info whereas concurrently limiting the dissemination of divisive content material. Moreover, creating devoted communication channels for native authorities and organizations enhances coordinated efforts to counter dangerous content material throughout emergencies.
Localized content material insurance policies are paramount. These insurance policies ought to particularly handle the distinctive challenges posed by non secular and ethnic tensions. Clear pointers on hate speech, incitement, and discrimination have to be outlined, supplemented by related examples grounded within the Indian context. In the end, an open and clear appeals course of is important. Customers ought to have the flexibility to contest content material removing selections, making certain a good evaluation course of, and to supply a chance to supply further context or proof.
Socio-Political Dynamics of Spiritual and Ethnic Teams in India
India’s therapy of spiritual and ethnic teams is deeply influenced by a multifaceted socio-political panorama. This panorama is formed by historic, cultural, and political elements that affect the interactions between totally different communities. India’s non secular and ethnic variety is a trademark of its id, encompassing a myriad of faiths, together with Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Whereas this variety is a supply of power, it additionally presents frequent challenges, as tensions between totally different non secular teams have led, on a number of events, to situations of battle and violence.
The precept of secularism is enshrined in India’s structure, which mandates the federal government to deal with all religions equally and keep away from favoring any explicit religion. Floor realities, although, can drive an reverse dynamic. The Indian authorities has carried out affirmative motion insurance policies to deal with historic inequalities confronted by marginalized teams, corresponding to Scheduled Castes (Dalits) and Scheduled Tribes, but these themselves have typically proved controversial and pushed battle (witness the current roots of the Manipur). Moreover, the popularity of sure non secular and ethnic teams as minorities on the nationwide or state degree has led to particular protections and advantages below authorities schemes and applications. Once more, that which is supposed to deal with one problem ceaselessly results in others.
The judiciary performs a big function in addressing disputes associated to non secular and ethnic teams. Landmark instances, such because the Ayodhya dispute underscore the problem of balancing non secular sentiments with authorized concerns. Each internationally and domestically, India’s therapy of spiritual and ethnic teams has come below scrutiny from human rights organizations and related social motion our bodies. The nation’s strategy to upholding the rights of those teams is intently monitored and evaluated on the worldwide stage. For sure, social media each informs and incites. Its compression of time and house has created hitherto unimagined pressures and calls for upon efforts at mediation of untoward circumstances.
Want for context-specific strategy for social media platforms
Consequently, the Violence and Incitement coverage of social media platforms ought to undertake a considerate and balanced strategy when addressing content material depicting communal violence. This coverage ought to embody varied key concerns:
- A transparent and complete definition of violation is important. The flexibility to evaluate content material inside its context is crucial, distinguishing between content material that incites violence, glorifies it, or serves respectable functions corresponding to information protection/instructional consciousness.
- Swift removing of content material explicitly calling for violence towards non secular or ethnic teams is crucial. This contains content material that immediately instructs or encourages hurt.
- Oblique requires violence by way of symbolism, imagery, or language shouldn’t be ignored. Such content material also needs to endure cautious evaluation.
- Evaluating potential hurt and real-world affect is paramount. Elements corresponding to historic context, ongoing tensions, and the potential to exacerbate violence needs to be integrated into the evaluation.
- Understanding the intent behind sharing the visible (usually, video) is equally vital. Distinguishing between content material shared to lift consciousness or condemn violence and content material shared with malicious intent is essential.
- Efforts to contextualize the video content material, corresponding to offering captions, descriptions, or hyperlinks to respected information sources, needs to be thought of when making removing selections.
- Transparency is a basic precept. A transparent appeals course of have to be established, permitting content material creators to contest removing selections with the chance to supply further context or proof.
Balancing the prevention of offline violence with the rules of freedom of expression requires a nuanced strategy. Social media platforms (SMPs) ought to repeatedly refine their insurance policies by way of collaboration with related stakeholders to successfully handle the complicated challenges offered by video content material depicting scenes of communal violence.
Engagement with Legislation Enforcement Businesses and residents
Within the Indian context, adhering to regulation enforcement requests for content material removing which will breach a social media platform’s content material guidelines, even when not violating nationwide legal guidelines, calls for a fragile stability between upholding platform insurance policies and respecting native laws and particular person freedom. To navigate this problem, social media platforms could undertake the next methods:
- Develop clear and well-defined content material guidelines that define violations of platform pointers, making certain accessibility for customers.
- Set up user-friendly reporting mechanisms that permit customers to flag content material they consider breaches platform insurance policies. Clear pointers for reporting content material that will not infringe on nationwide legal guidelines however violates platform guidelines needs to be offered.
- Implement a clear content material evaluation course of that informs customers in regards to the steps concerned and potential outcomes. This readability emphasizes that content material removing selections are based mostly on platform insurance policies reasonably than authorized concerns alone.
- Foster direct communication with regulation enforcement companies, fostering collaboration whereas sustaining the platform’s independence. The platform’s function in addressing regulation enforcement requests needs to be clearly outlined.
- Take into account content material labeling in instances the place removing is probably not warranted however issues exist. Contextual info will help customers perceive the content material’s nature and intent.
- Guarantee a sturdy appeals course of that enables content material creators to contest removing selections. Impartial evaluation groups ought to oversee appeals to make sure impartiality.
- Encourage an ongoing dialogue with related authorities our bodies to debate content material coverage challenges and potential options.
In regards to the creator: Vivek Bhargav is a U.S. Trade Scholar and Train For India alumnus with interdisciplinary information and expertise in politics, public coverage, and worldwide affairs. The views expressed on this article are private and don’t characterize his place in any of his institutional affiliations. This Coverage Transient has been revealed as a part of Mantraya’s ongoing “Fragility, Battle, and Peace Constructing” undertaking. All Mantraya publications are peer-reviewed.
Supply: This text was revealed by Mantraya
 Edward O. Wilson 1929–American sociobiologist, Oxford Important Quotations (4 ed.), ed. Susan Ratcliffe, https://www.oxfordreference.com/show/10.1093/acref/9780191826719.001.0001/q-oro-ed4-00016553.
 “Godlike expertise” is a time period talked about by Prof. Edward O Wilson as an analogy to the powers that expertise possesses in reference to “god” whose powers are unknown. See Tristan Harris, “Our brains are not any match for our expertise”, The New York Occasions, 5 December 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/opinion/digital-technology-brain.html.
 22 languages are included within the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Structure (~20 languages are digitally out there), Languages Included within the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Structure, https://rajbhasha.gov.in/en/languages-included-eighth-schedule-indian-constitution.
 Distribution of Inhabitants by Religions, Drop-in-Article on Census – No.4: Census of India 2011 https://censusindia.gov.in/nada/index.php/catalog/40443/obtain/44077/DROP_IN_ARTICLE-04.pdf
 The Preamble of India, https://safe.mygov.in/read-the-preamble-india/
 Ayodhya Title Dispute – M Siddiq v Mahant Suresh Das, Supreme Courtroom Observer, https://www.scobserver.in/instances/m-siddiq-v-mahant-das-ayodhya-title-dispute-case-background/
 2022 Report on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom: India, Workplace of Worldwide Spiritual Freedom, https://www.state.gov/stories/2022-report-on-international-religious-freedom/india/