Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a valid point in urging people not to spread dirt through social media. There’s no doubt that allowing rumour-mongers to create an atmosphere of hate where mobs feel free to take on the “enemy” and even kill him/her is not a civilised way to live. This may seem at odds with the stand of the saffron forces’ bhakts, but the PM does sound bipartisan in appealing to his partymen first to temper down the language of discourse on the social media, which has become a marketplace for trading insults. Regardless of their persuasion, opposing parties are guilty of freely using invective about each other. Such people may be far removed from lynch mobs that have been India’s shame, but they are part of the reason for the vitiated and polarised atmosphere in the online community.
The threat to act against India social media heads for not reining in rumour perpetrators may not yield the desired results as the medium isn’t the only problem. It’s undeniable that there’s an overload of untruths today thanks to ready mobilisation of propagandists’ thoughts through the Internet. A shocking plethora of lies has benumbed us so that it appears we will put up with anything. Society itself may be desensitised due to the all-pervasive social media. It’s not just Facebook-WhatsApp, which of course are the most popular among Indians. The medium may change, but the reality is that we as a people are allowing untruths to prevail. So complete seems this perversion of fake news that a reasonable and well-argued point like the one Mr Modi has made is unlikely to bring about the desired effect.