Social Media Responds To Social Upheavals

Social Media Responds To Social Upheavals

At a time when the #BlackLivesMatter movement has gained momentum, there is a rising social media upheaval regarding the recent posts citing harsh remarks that propagate racism. In a sensitive hour like this, what is the silver lining between censorship and political correctness on social media? How can tech giants moderate the users’ virtual persona and make it a friendly presence for all?

Crux of the Matter

Across The Globe
Recently Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohania resigned from the company’s board, pledging his seat to a black candidate, acknowledging how leaving content moderation to volunteers had made it a haven for spreading racist ideologies. This move comes after the ex-CEO Ellen Pao criticized the current one, Steve HuffMan for not taking action against prejudiced subreddits till large subreddits joined in protests against the site.

After POTUS Donald Trump’s recent post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbeg acknowledged the post but still decided not to remove it, there was a mob of angry people at the social media giant, with employees quitting, contractors threatening to terminate contracts to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. On the other hand, Trump’s tribute to George Floyd on Twitter was removed citing copyright issues.

Social Media & India
#CensorWebSeries : The trend with 65K mentions in a single day focuses on Amazon Prime Video’s Paatal Lok, a show that deals with religion and caste, which the tweets say are “anti-Hindu”.

TikTok outrage: TikTok ordered moderators in India to censor content that was against the Chinese communist party. This is after it repeatedly faced heat for imposing a shadow ban – A user who uploads the content is not notified but other users never get to see it as it doesn’t come up on anyone’s feed. Similarly, many raised voices against lax measures taken by TikTok against censoring sensitive content in India.

Zoom and Twitter disable accounts: Recently Zoom temporarily shut down an account of US-based rights campaigners who held an online discussion, that marked the anniversary of China’s 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. This subsequently has raised an alarm about curbing free speech.

Amul advertising boycott of Chinese products. 

Following in similar footsteps, Twitter blocked Amul India’s account on June 4 and restored it the next day after it released a creative campaign depicting Atmanirbhar Bharat, urging readers to buy products made in India and not China. Twitter cites this decision was necessary as per its security protocol while Amul MD RS Sodhi has retorted back stating how the Amul girl speaks her mind out.

Great Power, Greater Responsibility
Cross communication across impactful companies and platforms needs to be encouraged. Strict enforcement of legal actions towards any insensitive behavior online. A uniform committee needs to be assembled on diversity, equity, and inclusion to deal with the current issues being raised while organizing sensitization conferences for all employees.

Playing the blame game is going to get us nowhere. There should be a long term solution that persists when the hashtags stop trending and the protests stop attracting crowds. That is when real change will happen.

  • After introducing work from home for all of its employees globally in March, Twitter has recently made an announcement stating that it will give its employees to forever work from home even after the pandemic. Work from home even after the pandemic will provide benefits such as reduced commute times, lower pollution levels, reduced operational costs, and increased morale.
  • Audio-streaming giant Spotify, as part of its Blackout Tuesday initiatives, is including an 8-minute, 46-second track of silence on select playlists and podcasts. That is meant “as a solemn acknowledgment for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated,” Spotify said.