The basic premise of Facebook usage is ‘I communicate in order to be heard and responded by selected group of people who I consider likeminded and if not, expect them to be decent in dissent.’ Being on Facebook is like a virtual party where you can check-in and check-out at your convenience. It is a place where both – the participant and the voyeurs are equally celebrated. Since it is a party where everyone participates voluntarily and networks vociferously; there is high expectation that the entire experience be a safe and a pleasurable one. To some it is, to some it is not. As it is with fear, the not-so-pleasurable experiences spreads around in hearsay like a wild fire creating terror where there was none and aggravating fear where there was little. The party damage controllers have a lot of work at hand. They have to ensure that the ones who are on Facebook have a good time and keep coming back for more, to invite those who aren’t there yet and to generate enough confidence in the lapsers to rejoin. This is not done with the intention of serving an egalitarian purpose. Facebook has often been compared to a country had that taken up a physical space on the globe. When you have a country, you have a responsibility of ensuring that the socio-cultural fabric is rich and the economy runs like a well-oiled machine.
Going forth with the comparison of Facebook to a country; it is observed that the relative common grouses in society have been attacks on people for their opinions and choices related to politics, religion and sex and misuse of personal information with the intention to cause harm.Politics, religion and sex have to be expressed in order to exist. These phenomenon do not exist otherwise.When an individual wants to be annihilated for its expression, it is either bullied into submission or it is harmed. In a country like ours, there does not have to be method to the madness of destruction. Individual destruction is not always supported by facts that can be subjected to objective perusal. The history of individual rights’ violation is as old as the evolution history of the individual itself. Hence, protection of the individual is of paramount importance in both – the physical and virtual space. With the increasing aggression of creating market for goods, the companies find rich data about their targeted consumers on websites which have high personal content like Facebook. The personal content on Facebook is in the form of pictures, videos and text. In order to let the person freely express and to protect the person while and after expressing is a mammoth yet imperative task. The protection has to be against exploitative capitalism, social bullying and personal threat to the individual. The protection also has to ensure that it does not deter the capitalism from thriving by leveraging a rich source like Facebook. At the onset, Facebook is a treasury to which there are rules to exploit the indulgence and there are rules to indulge.
There is a fascinating tale about the Skeleton Woman in a particular folklore. As per the story, a fisherman accidentally hooks a dead woman’s body. Terrified, he tries to get rid of her. He cannot and ends up bringing her home. In the light of his candle at night, the fisherman views the Skeleton Woman differently. He sees her for the woman that she is and brings her to life by nurturing her. An individual’s right to express is like the fisherman who is pro-actively seeking to communicate, engage, to ‘hook’. The adversary to the communicator is the Skeleton Woman who the communicator does not want but that is what it gets. Those who express must encounter the Skeleton Woman. Those who express must nurture their adversary in order to communicate effectively. The trick is how to deal with the attacks when communicating. The trick is also to save the Skeleton woman and to not let her become a skeleton in the first place. The adversaries on Facebook also have to be elevated on a higher plane so that there are high benchmarks for social behavior on Facebook.
Facebook not only has inbuilt safety system as has already been explained; it has also roped in a New Delhi based organization Centre for Social Research to educate the youngsters on ensuring their own safety and sensitize them to respect the privacy and safety of others. The campaign #SocialSurfing aims at incorporating a culture of counter speech in youngsters so that they can handle online abuse, bullying and hate speech. The campaign goes to college campuses and conducts workshops on a replicable model. The campaign response has been very enthusiastic and brings in a sense of optimism for a more humane online environment for social interaction.
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