Mis/Using Social Media during the Outbreak Times

What are we going through the most after the coronavirus attacked the world? The simple answer is social media. The use of social media has increased a lot to cut off boredom. But the real question whether the purpose of its use is good/bad or ethical/unethical. Many issues are going viral in social media platforms. The issues usually range from memes and fun challenges to fake news and troll. We all are both the victims and the abusers in different situations. People share stuffs intentionally and unintentionally to praise and hurt someone. Sometimes people do not apply any common sense before posting any news or post or comment. It is totally up to us how the situation will be managed. Let us see what all kind of issues became viral in social media platforms during the lockdown.

Recently the news to become viral is concerns about the ‘phishing attack alert’. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team has issued a serious alert that the phishing attack campaign is expected to be carried out by cyber criminals through a suspicious email id— ncov2019@gov.in from 21 June, 2020. The cyber criminals claim to have over two million individuals’ mail ids. They have a plan of sending mails with the subject ‘Free COVID-19 Testing’ in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad. The Government sends an alert that the attackers will imitate government organisations to confuse and that they can also steal sensitive personal data. It has also formed some guidelines to restrict the attackers.

Another hot topic is the attacks on celebrities, including the ‘star-kids’, after the sudden demise of the Bollywood heartthrob, Sushant Singh Rajput. Initially the Maharashtra Police department had reported that he had committed suicide due to depression. But after a day it has filed a case and started investigating the suicide theory. While the investigation is on people have started acting like investigators themselves and are pointing out various issues and events to prove that it was not suicide. So many information are getting viral in Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. Netizens are attacking celebrities like Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor, Salman Khan and many more on the ground of ‘nepotism’ in this Bollywood industry. Netizens are also unfollowing them on Twitter and Instagram and posting numerous hate comments on their accounts. Some celebrities have blocked the comment sections of their accounts and some have deleted their accounts to have mental peace. Some people are calling for boycotting the large production houses and swear that they would not watch the movies of these houses in theatres. The followers of Sushant’s account have increased phenomenally in these few days on his Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Things have come to such a pass that the Maharashtra police has been forced to alert netizens with a warning. After the death of the Bollywood actor suddenly two pictures of his dead body lying on his bed became viral. It is unethical to post and share such pictures on both digital and print media. It may invite punishment for posting pictures of a body without the blurred face as per Indian law book. But some people have become insensitive due to the overuse of social media. Sushant’s close friends and some celebrities had to urge their followers not to share such pictures. It was getting out of control. So the police department posted on its social media account a warning that whoever shares the pictures will face severe consequence. One popular news channel also faced a FIR for reporting insensitive headline about Sushant.

Fake news poses a grave challenge to procuring and presenting information. Even the most prominent organizations fall prey to it. Some time back the World Health Organization (WHO) had to post an emergency notice on its official website. It clarified that a fake news was being circulated on various social media. The fake news stated that WHO has released a four-step protocol and procedure for conducting lockdown in India. WHO denied issuing such advisory and has asked people to visit the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India and the official WHO website for verified information.

Last but definitely not the least the Press Information Bureau (PIB), Government of India, informed that the viral news on social media about the central government’s decision to resume lockdown from 18 June is fake. After the news went viral speculations and some panic started. Prior to this news, the PIB also refuted another fake news about the imposition of lockdown from 15 June by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Social media platforms have much utility in our life. But at times they become quite dangerous for public. Fake news and fake posters can lead some people to take wrong decisions. Some official measures are being taken now. The Indian Government, for instance, has stipulated that in the case of forwarding a particular message WhatsApp authorities have to show the exact number of people forwarding it. We have our responsibility as well. Before forwarding or sharing any piece of information, news or pictures as users we must try to check whether it is true or fake. It is a difficult task indeed but the effort needs to be there.