Social media is proving to be a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. While the advents of the social media sites changed our lives for the better, it has also brought with it many harmful effects and dangers. Now social media has become a platform for stealing personal information of its users and a medium to brainwash users with subversive material.
At a glance social media, Facebook in particular, is responsible for two types of misconducts. One, our privacy is at stake. It couldn’t protect personal information given to it by users from being hacked or being sold to advertisement firms. Two, it couldn’t stop fake news or rumours from being flooded in its sites.Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed early this year showed how the firm had stolen data of millions of people from Facebook and processed the stolen information to understand their political preference. And those same people who were victims of data theft were allegedly bombarded with targeted ads, blogs and fake news to benefit a certain US presidential candidate.
With the said harmful effects of social media on US presidential elections 2016 still fresh in our minds, we cannot just leave it to the conscience or efficiency of social media authorities to stop jeopardising the forthcoming elections in Bangladesh.
In that light it is heartening to know that the law enforcers have taken initiatives for keeping a close eye on the social media to track any online activities aimed at disturbing the peace ahead of the national elections. Bangladesh must develop the capacity to audit social media sites and hold people accountable if they breach expected norms of conduct. We must ensure social media transparency.
However, that doesn’t mean that the state machineries should be used to stifle dissent on social media. Speaking out against injustice or voicing disagreement does not necessarily mean spreading rumours. So, the government must tread carefully.