Sunday, 19 September, 2021
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Social media must be held accountable

Social media must be held accountable

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Social media have turned out to be a double-edged sword that cut both ways. While the advent of the social media sites made communication easier and faster, it has also brought with it many harmful effects and dangers. Of late, to a large extent social media platforms are being used to steal personal information of the users, spread rumours and anti-state propaganda and to ruin reputation of individuals. Also exists there widespread attempts to radicalise people only to disturb communal harmony.

Thus misuse of social media is giving rise to a wide range of criminal activities both online and offline. Moreover, given that the government cannot hold accountable the social media sites and the free rein social media users enjoy, even law enforcement agencies are finding it difficult to effectively handle some of the crimes committed through these sites. It prompted Superintendents of Police (SPs) from across the country to demand establishing more control over social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.

Considering the harmful impacts of social media sites in our society, we cannot just leave it to the conscience or efficiency of social media authorities to stop jeopardising our privacy, social harmony and much else beside. Bangladesh must develop the capacity to audit social media sites and hold them accountable if they breach expected norms of conduct. We must ensure social media transparency.

In that light it is heartening to know that the government is formulating a new law to increase its control over social media, especially Facebook and YouTube. Besides, the law enforcement agencies and the BTRC must keep a close eye on the social media to stop malicious online activities. However, that doesn’t mean that the state machineries should be used to stifle descent on social media. Speaking out against injustice or voicing dissent does not necessarily mean spreading rumours. So, the government must tread carefully while enacting the new law.