State PCS

Edit Template
Edit Template

Social media – Balancing freedom and responsibility

Social media


Police officials said that the girl, who was not named, was in severe depression due to being trolled and cyberbullied on social media that drove her on the brink of suicide.

The Sharjah Police swung into action to save the girl. It managed to identify the source and location from where the message was sent. The police officers and patrols department reached the girl’s flat in Sharjah’s Al Nahda area. They told the girl’s father about her plans to kill herself.

When they entered the girl’s room, she was apparently preparing herself to end her life, the report said. The police said they calmed her down and told her they were there to help her.

The girl was later provided psychological support and counselling to banish the thought of suicide.


Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available introduces challenges of definition; however, there are some common features.

  1. Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications.
  2. User-generated content such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions, is the lifeblood of social media.
  3. Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.
  4. Social media facilitate the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups.

Social media outlets differ from traditional media (e.g., magazines, newspapers, TV broadcasting, and radio broadcasting) in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. Additionally, social media outlets operate in a dialogic transmission system (many sources to many receivers) while traditional media outlets operate under a mono-logic transmission model (one source to many receivers).

For example, a newspaper is delivered to many subscribers and a radio station broadcasts the same programs to an entire city.

According to Statista, in 2020, it is estimated that there are around 3.6 billion people using social media around the globe, up from 3.4 billion in 2019. The number is expected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025. With the ease of internet access, the number of social media users in India stood at 326.1 million in 2018. This increase is relatively lower as compared to the growth that occurred between 2016 and 2017. Nevertheless, the social network users  in  the  country  were  expected  to  be  almost  448  million  in 2023. Facebook remained the popular choice among the social media platforms.


  • Rapid news sharing.
  • Awareness
  • Way to help others Read- example -Baba ka dhabha in Delhi customers increased because of SOCIAL Media.
  • Endless education opportunities
  • Getting advice and help online
  • Fighting crime
  • Online promotions
  • In Pandemic like Covid19 social media helped us staying together.


At Individual Level-
Negative interpersonal interactions and effects

Social media use sometimes involves negative interactions between users. Angry or emotional conversations can lead to real-world interactions outside of the Internet, which can get users into dangerous situations. Some users have experienced threats of violence online and have feared these threats manifesting themselves offline. Related issues include cyberbullying, online harassment, and “trolling“.

– Stalking
– Insulting the Modesty of a Woman
Criminal intimidation by anonymous communication
– Defamation
Sexual Harassment
– Publishing Sexually Offensive Material on the Internet
Social comparison and effects

One phenomenon that is commonly studied with social media is the issue of social comparison. People compare their own lives to the lives of their friends through their friends’ posts. Because people are motivated to portray themselves in a way that is appropriate to the situation and serves their best interests often the things posted online are the positive aspects of people’s lives, making other people question why their own lives are not as exciting or fulfilling.

Studies have shown that self-comparison on social media can have dire effects on physical and mental health because they give us the ability to seek approval and compare ourselves.

Social impacts-

The digital divide is a measure of disparity in the level of access to technology between households, socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories. Within a modern information society, some individuals produce Internet content while others only consume it, which could be a result of disparities in the education system where only some teachers integrate technology into the classroom and teach critical thinking.

Neil Postman also contends that social media will increase information disparity between “winners” – who are able to use social media actively – and “losers” – who are not familiar with modern technologies or who do not have access to them. People with high social media skills may have better access to information about job opportunities, potential new friends, and social activities in their area, which may enable them to improve their standard of living and their quality of life.

  • Political polarization

We are seeing increasing consumption of news from social media. Because of algorithms on social media which filter and display news content which are likely to match their users’ political preferences, a potential impact of receiving news from social media includes an increase in political polarization due to selective exposure. Political polarization refers to when an individual’s stance on a topic is more likely to be strictly defined by their identification with a specific political party or ideology than on other factors.

Selective exposure occurs when an individual favors information that supports their beliefs and avoids information that conflicts with their beliefs. A study by Hayat and Samuel-Azran conducted during the 2016 U.S. presidential election observed an “echo chamber” effect of selective exposure among 27,811 Twitter users following the content of cable news shows. The Twitter users observed in the study were found to have little interaction with users and content whose beliefs were different from their own, possibly heightening polarization effects.

Efforts to combat selective exposure in social media may also cause an increase in political polarization.

  • Stereotyping

Recent research has demonstrated that social media, and media in general, have the power to increase the scope of stereotypes not only in children but people of all ages. Users of Facebook generally use their profiles to reflect that they are a “normal” person. Social media was found to uphold gender stereotypes both feminine and masculine.

  • Disparity of information available.
  • Issues with Trustworthiness and reliability of information presented, the impact of social media use on an individual’s concentration, ownership of media content.
  • There has been a dramatic decrease in face-to-face interactions as more and more social media platforms have been introduced with the threat of cyber-bullying and online sexual predators being more prevalent.
  • Social media may expose children to images of alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behaviors.
  • Twitter is increasingly a target of heavy activity of marketers. Their actions focused on gaining massive numbers of followers, include use of advanced scripts and manipulation techniques that distort the prime idea of social media by abusing human trustfulness.

British-American entrepreneur and author Andrew Keen criticizes social media in his book The Cult of the Amateur, writing, “Out of this anarchy, it suddenly became clear that what was governing the infinite monkeys now inputting away on the Internet was the law of digital Darwinism, the survival of the loudest and most opinionated. Under these rules, the only way to intellectually prevail is by infinite filibustering.

Criticism of data harvesting and data mining

Social media “mining” is a type of data mining, a technique of analysing data to detect patterns. Social media mining is a process of representing, analysing, and extracting actionable patterns from data collected from

people’s activities on social media. Google mines data in many ways including using an algorithm in Gmail to analyse information in emails. This use of the information will then affect the type of advertisements shown to the user  when  they  use  Gmail. Massive  amount  of  data  from  social  platforms  allows  scientists and machine learning researchers to extract insights and build product features.

  • Ethical questions of the extent to which a company should be able to utilize a user’s information have been called “big data. Users tend to click through Terms of Use agreements when signing up on social media platforms, and they do not know how their information will be used by companies. This leads to questions of privacy and surveillance when user data is recorded. Some social media outlets have added capture time and Geotagging that helps provide information about the context of the data as well as making their data more accurate.

On April 10, 2018, in a hearing held in response to revelations of data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, faced questions from senators on a variety of issues, from privacy to the company’s business model and the company’s mishandling of data. This was Mr. Zuckerberg’s first appearance before Congress, prompted by the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign, harvested the data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users to psychologically profile voters during the 2016 election. Zuckerberg was pressed to account for how third-party partners could take data without users’ knowledge. Lawmakers grilled the 33-year-old executive on the proliferation of so-called fake news on Facebook, Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election and censorship of conservative media.

  • Ownership of content

Social media content is generated through social media interactions done by users through the site. There has always been a huge debate on the ownership of the content on social media platforms because it is generated by the users and hosted by the company. Added to this is the danger to the security of information, which can be leaked to third parties with economic interests in the platform, or parasites who comb the data for their own databases.

  • Privacy

Privacy rights advocates warn users on social media about the collection of their personal data. Some information is captured without the user’s knowledge or consent through electronic tracking and third party applications. Data may also be collected for law enforcement and governmental purposes, by social media intelligence using data mining techniques. Data and information may also be collected for third party use. When information is shared on social media, that information is no longer private. There have been many cases in which young persons especially, share personal information, which can attract predators. Teens especially share significantly more information on the internet now than they have in the past. Teens are much more likely to share their personal information, such as email address, phone number, and school names. Studies suggest that teens are not aware of what they are posting and how much of that information can be accessed by third parties.

  • Criticism of commercialization

The commercial development of social media has been criticized as the actions of consumers in these settings have become increasingly value-creating, for example when consumers contribute to the marketing and branding of specific products by posting positive reviews. As such, value-creating activities also increase the value of a specific product, which could, according to the marketing professors Bernad Cova and Daniele Dalli, lead to what they refer to as “double exploitation”. Companies are getting consumers to create content for the companies’ websites for which the consumers are not paid.

  • Debate over addiction

As one of the biggest preoccupations among adolescents is social media usage, researchers have begun using the term “F.A.D.”, or “Facebook addiction disorder”, a form of internet addiction disorder. FAD is characterized by compulsive use of the social networking site Facebook, which generally results in physical or psychological complications.. One German study, published in 2017, investigated a correlation between extensive use of the social networking site and narcissism; the results were published in the journal PLoS One. According to the findings: “FAD was significantly positively related to the personality trait narcissism and to negative mental health variables (depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms).” While these issues regarding social media addiction are continuous and increasing, there are ways to help reduce and curb one’s social media obsessions

  • Censorship by governments

Banner in Bangkok, observed on June 30, 2014, informing the Thai public that ‘like’ or ‘share’ activity on social media may land them in jail.

Social media often features in political struggles to control public perception and online activity. In some countries, Internet police or secret police monitor or control citizens’ use of social media. For example, in 2013 some social media was banned in Turkey after the Taksim Gezi Park protests. Both Twitter and YouTube were temporarily suspended in the country by a court’s decision. On 27 July 2020, in Egypt, two women were sentenced to two years of imprisonment for posting TikTok videos, which the government claims are “violating family values”.

  • Deplatforming

Deplatforming is a form of Internet censorship in which controversial speakers or speech are suspended, banned, or otherwise shut down by social media platforms and other service providers that normally provide a venue for free expression. These kinds of actions are similar to alternative dispute resolution. As early as 2015, platforms such as Reddit began to enforce selective bans based, for example, on terms of service that prohibit “hate speech

Law professor Glenn Reynolds dubbed 2018 the “Year of Deplatforming”, in an August 2018 article in The Wall Street Journal. According to Reynolds, in 2018 “the internet giants decided to slam the gates on a number of people and ideas they don’t like. If you rely on someone else’s platform to express unpopular ideas, especially ideas on the right, you’re now at risk.” Most people see social media platforms as censoring objectionable political views.


Our Constitution has defined free speech and its limits in Article 19(2). The principle that all platforms must abide by, therefore, is simple: any content or speech on a platform should pass the test of Article 19(2), and that alone. The take-down policies, guidelines and algorithms of all social media platforms should be compliant with and not go beyond what is prescribed by law. This standard should be equitably applied to all, as per Article 14. As a ground rule that all platforms must comply with, this is simple enough to set down in law.

We need a new legislative framework of the tech and internet sectors. There are too many laws and too many gaps. The legislative and institutional framework must be flexible, dynamic and evolutionary, unlike what exists presently. We should update laws like the Telegraph Act, TRAI Act, IT Act, Indian Penal Code (to deal with issues of defamation, etc) and the IT intermediary guidelines of the proposed Data Protection Act.

It may be better to either expand the mandate of an existing institution like the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) or Competition Commission of India, or merge bodies like the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal and Cyber-Appellate Tribunal into one (to curb the rising burden on the Judiciary)

We need Strong data protection regime as after Privacy Judgement of SC.


  • Strengthening Legtislative Frameworks by respective governments with the vision of Free and OPEN Internet.
  • Corporate responsibility.

Facebook, for instance, has started to address this matter by publishing ‘transparency reports’ and setting up an ‘oversight board’. We have no way of knowing the extent of biases that may be inherent inside each firm. The fact that their main algorithms target advertising and hyper-personalization of content makes them further suspect as arbiters of balanced news.

This means that those who use social media platforms must pull in another direction to maintain access to a range of sources and views.

  • Google Tax as these companies causing great revenue loss to Developing countries.
  • Independent Regulator for Cross border flow of data.
  • Global cooperation for better internet governance.
  • Capacity Building.


SOCIAL MEDIA is great space; it can bring Social Revolution like Arab Spring; it can be bulwark of Freedom of Speech and Expression. However, it can also degenerate into Echo Chamber and Place of Online Trolling. There is need to reform it to bring Social Responsibility.

India will soon be one of the world’s biggest internet-enabled nations, with over 800 million online users. Looking beyond Covid, India could emerge as a leading economic power. Technology will likely be a big part of our economy, accounting for almost a fifth of our overall output. Hence, the need to harness the good aspects of it and regulate the bad. This is critical to our national strategy for growth.

Unregulated social and digital media could pose a threat to India’s rise as a trustworthy and responsible nation, as also Indian democracy, the world’s largest. These challenges can be addressed by regulating social media efficiently and modernizing our laws and institutions. The time for action has come.

Read more: Federal Structure of India

Demo Class/Enquiries

blog form

More Links
What's New
IAS NEXT is a topmost Coaching Institute offering guidance for Civil & Judicial services like UPSC, State PCS, PCS-J exams since more than 10 years.
Contact Us
Social Icon

Copyright ©  C S NEXT EDUCATION. All Rights Reserved