Tag Archive for 'Social media'

Social media magnification

“Domestic violence and the victimisation of women is not new in our male-directed societies, what is new is the degree to which its magnification through social media can spread solidarity, and potentially trigger policy change.” Kunda Dixit in Nepali Times:

The street demonstrations in Kathmandu against recent rapes and murders of women would probably not have made it to the #2 news on BBC World on Saturday morning if it hadn’t been tagged to the anti-rape protests in Delhi. And that story wouldn’t have been the #1 item if the protests in India hadn’t snowballed due to outraged citizens on social media leading the charge. As the protests grew and continued in India, it fuelled print and TV coverage, and the chain reaction attained critical mass.

In Nepal, protests over the robbery and rape of a 20-year-old woman by immigration and police broke into the public consciousness last month because of the role of journalists and cyber-savvy activists. Left to the traditional media, the story would probably have died quietly like many other rape stories before. It was a tipping point because the crime involved immigration officials who looted the young woman and a policeman who, instead of protecting her, turned predator. Pending murders and disappearances of women in Kathmandu, and the cases of two young women who were burnt alive by family members in Banke and Bara at about the same time, added fuel to the fire. The protests in Kathmandu would possibly have happened anyway, but saturation coverage in the Indian media about the Delhi rape also helped sustain the public’s interest in Nepal.

These were not isolated crimes. Rape has always been endemic in Nepal, it’s just that women press charges more often now and the media reports it. It is also a cross-border phenomenon because we share similar patriarchal value-systems with northern India. At the time this story was breaking in Nepal, a piece by Satrudhan Shah and commissioned by the Centre for Investigative Journalism detailed many cases in the eastern Tarai of victims forced to marry their rapists by the community, police and even gender rights activists. The story was published in Annapurna Post in Nepali, and as ‘Rape for Ransom’ in English in Nepali Times. More:

Internet analysts question India’s efforts to stem panic

Vikas Bajaj from Mumbai in NYT:

The Indian government’s efforts to stem a weeklong panic among some ethnic minorities has again put it at odds with Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Officials in New Delhi, who have had disagreements with the companies over restrictions on free speech, say the sites are not responding quickly enough to their requests to delete and trace the origins of doctored photos and incendiary posts aimed at people from northeastern India. After receiving threats online and on their phones, tens of thousands of students and migrants from the northeast have left cities like Bangalore, Pune and Chennai in the last week.

The government has blocked 245 Web pages since Friday, but still many sites are said to contain fabricated images of violence against Muslims in the northeast and in neighboring Myanmar meant to incite Muslims in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai to attack people from the northeast. India also restricted cellphone users to five text messages a day each for 15 days in an effort to limit the spread of rumors.

Officials from Google and industry associations said they were cooperating fully with the authorities. Some industry executives and analysts added that some requests had not been heeded because they were overly broad or violated internal policies and the rights of users. More:

When Is government web censorship justified? 

Max Fisher in The Atlantic:

Technology can be a great liberator, but can it sometimes be a carcinogen? The Indian government seems to think so: it has blocked around 250 websites, ordered Google and Facebook to pull content, threatened legal action against Twitter if it doesn’t delete certain accounts, and has arrested several people for sending inflammatory text messages, all in the name of public safety. If you’re appalled, you’re not alone: the U.S. State Department responded by calling on India to respect “full freedom of the internet,” highlighting the growing divide between the two governments on web freedom.

But the Indian censorship — and it is censorship, despite the government’s insistance otherwise — may not be as clear-cut as a case of state oppression and over-reach. It turns out that the Indian government might be right to fear that technology, for all the very real benefits it’s brought India, could also be helping to magnify ancient communal tensions in a ways that costs lives and, perhaps even worse, might destabilize the delicate social balance within the world’s second-largest country.

The story begins, depending on how you look at it, either 20 years, one month, or one week ago. More:


Why India loves Facebook

Tunku Varadarajan at The Daily Blog:

The social-networking giant has opened its first-ever office in Asia—in the country where being all up in one another’s business is practically a birthright.

Facebook and Indians have a magnetic connection. Everyone in my family in India except my father—who, at 77, is entitled to his suspicions of the medium—is a Facebook user. Every single friend of mine in India—except for an eccentric Bengali writer who idolizes a 19th-century British viceroy, Lord Curzon, for which reason he cannot be said to have come to terms with the modern world—is a Facebook user.

Every single friend of mine of Indian origin, anywhere in the world, is a Facebook user. And a great number of my Facebook “friends” are Indians who, having read my journalism, or seen my name on a sibling’s or (genuine) friend’s page, have sought me out and “friended” me as a reflexive act of connection; and being of Indian origin myself, I’ve always found it infernally hard—if not virtually impossible—to say “no.” More: