Social media has revolutionized the whole landscape of our society. It has a very vital role to play nowadays. This role of social media becomes more prominent when there is conflict in any part of the world.
The reason behind it is that media are the only channels through which people get information and details about what is happening around. It has been observed by many that the social media and other forms of communication technology especially in the war zones or the conflicted areas help the citizens maintain the system or order, enable discussions of topics that are not at all acceptable by the society to discuss face to face.
Nowadays, Facebook, Twitter, and other similar social networking websites are becoming the most visited destinations on the internet. These services allow its users to quickly and easily share pictures, links, ideas, and messages with other users, basically it facilitates social interaction.
In most of the cases where media is seen controlled and operated by the government itself, losing its freedom of expression, social media, on the other hand, provides a space for every citizen to post their thoughts, opinions, and ideas.
Today, there is a tremendous variety of social networking sites, and many of them can be linked to allow cross-posting. This creates an environment where users can reach the maximum number of people without sacrificing the intimacy of person-to-person communication.
Coming back to the basic question, does social media influence the conflict? Yes, it helps a lot to make everyone aware of the real situation in any conflicted zone. Nowadays, live happenings are disseminated among a large audience, as we have seen during protests in Kashmir, Palestine and the other parts of the world.
But on the other hand, it affects the conflict in a negative way also as a single wrong information about anything may lead to more conflicts.
Kashmir and Social Media
With the aid of Social Media, any incident or news that comes up; spreads within the masses in no time. People regardless of where they are and what they do, stay updated to the latest happenings around them or even around the globe. Any incident or news is quite literally just a click away. And all of this is credited to Social Media websites like Facebook and Twitter etc. They give people the chance to update posts and tweets of their choice and interests. Even Blogging has proved that people in Kashmir have been solely dependent on social media to express their views and carry on with the struggle. People browse through the articles regarding the current happenings along with the suitable videos and pictures.
Kashmir too is no exception with regards to social media fever. Here, youth click pictures and record videos at encounter and protest sites, keeping rest of the valley well updated as well as the world. What makes it even more intimidating is that not only can people upload stuff, people can also react to the posts and comment their views without any anxiety or discomfort. It gives people a platform to share their opinions, discuss the topics that matter to them and most of all, an opportunity to learn.
Not only this, various NGO’S and nonprofit organizations share posts to ask the general public for help in order to ease some worries of the people in need. Separatist leadership also tends to attract people on social media, for joining the resistance movement and urging them to stick to their protest plans and calendars issued from time to time. The international community also gets a sleek peek on the situation on the ground and keeping tabs on human rights violation in the valley.
But, it sure has its own loopholes like any other advanced technologies. There is usually a lack of authenticity which results in rumor spreading and making the situation even worse. Sometimes,
miscreants and evil-mongers use social media to fire up people with some fake news or over exaggeration of conditions on the ground. Political party activists and workers also rile up negative emotions in masses by spreading hate and turning them against one another.
But, as ironic as it gets, India being one of the largest democracies in the world, the government running in the name of the Constitution of this country, keeps on blocking the Internet services every now and then, which is quite undemocratic by the way. Be it the time of election or civilian killings, the Internet is immediately banned and people are barred from turning to SM to quote their views and vent their anger virtually about any mishaps in the valley.
Social media censorship
In Kashmir, Facebook has a record of censoring posts and user accounts; importantly it started after the death of a 22-year-old militant Burhan Wani. Academics, journalists and the pages of local newspapers are among those who have had photos, videos and entire accounts deleted by Facebook after they posted about events in the disputed territory.
Social media companies such as Facebook are under increasing pressure to limit the spread of extremist propaganda but have also faced criticism that they have gone too far.
Rizwan Sajid, whose account was blocked after he changed his profile picture to an image of Burhan Wani, told me that Facebooks actions amounted to Islamophobia. Why is it that only Muslims get blocked? Facebook is being one-sided by supporting the atrocities committed by the Indian army. Other people can say whatever they want, but if Muslims say something, we get blocked. It is not neutral.
Huma Dar, a Kashmiri academic in California, found that her profile had been deleted without warning after she posted images of Burhan Wanis funeral.
The day Burhan was killed, I got messages from friends in India saying some of their photos had been deleted. I thought it had something to do with the Indian government. I live a mile and a half away from Facebooks headquarters in America; I never thought it would happen to me. Dar, an academic at UC Berkley and California State who teaches a class about cinema and terrorism, told me: Naturally I post about these things, and I use Facebook as a place to discuss ideas.
There is no doubt that media has done a lot for the up gradation of our lives. And it creates an alternate “user-generated” medium of communication that can address any weakness in the flow of
information. Social media being very widely used by everyone has affected the way we think and communicate. As media is supposed to be the fourth pillar of democracy, it has to be responsible for its actions. It has been seen that the role of media becomes more prominent at the time of war or in the conflicted zones where it is the only medium through which the masses get the required information.
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