Most of us view the internet and social media as a medium of expression that ensures freedom of thought, speech and content distribution. However, a study conducted by a Non-Profit “Freedom House” has shown the rapid decline of internet freedom, increased restrictions and censorship of content under the guise of “security” or “political” reasons. For Social Media, this paints a grim picture as institutional filtering and censorship has grown at a rapid pace.
32 out of 65 countries surveyed showed a decline in freedom. Egypt and Ukraine have been most affected.
People have faced clampdowns, threats and jail for expressing opinions in criticism of authorities worldwide.
Common tactics governments use to manipulate media online include pro government commentators and media, fake news, hijacking accounts and by using fake bots.
In about 18 countries, disinformation tactics played a major role in deciding election outcomes!
China was found to be the worst abuser of internet freedom worldwide. Several countries employ armies of “opinion shapers” on Social Media to control content
India has been designated the status of “partly free” in terms of social-media freedom with a score of 41/100
In India, violation of rights of users stood out in addition to obstacles to access and content limits. Criticism of authorities, conflicts, blasphemy and even satire was found to be topics commonly censored.
Over 20 people have been detained on comments made over religion, politics, water disputes and demonetization.
Recently on government order 22 social media sites were banned in Kashmir for a month (including Facebook and WhatsApp)
Authoritarian Governments are now using the same tactics (like mass production of content) that activists used to criticize governance, against them, to counter them and thus distorting the social media landscape.