In the age when social media are at its peak, it has reached the point where people start to question: does this need government regulation?
Let’s admit it. Social media has become a powerful force in shaping and molding the society.
Recent studies have focused on it and tried to uncover the mystery that it holds over its influence on its users and audiences.
If we recall, the initial purpose of social media was simply to bring people together. We’ve seen stories on how social media helped reconcile families and reunite friends. Even lost pets got found with the help of social media.
But as years rolled, social media became a ‘tool’. It went out of being just ‘social’. It has grown to be an economic standpoint (ads, revenues, marketing, etc.), a gauge of moral compass (based on what you post), a psychological and emotional outlet, and a political tool to put forward an ideology.
The power of social media has grown vastly that users have gone out of control. We’ll discuss further below some ‘way out of line’ scenarios on social media.
And with these, is government regulation the answer? Or is there a chance that we can minimize these without government control?
Fake News, Trolls, Bots
The existence of fake news, online trolls, and computer bots have been around for quite some time now. It has only been brought to everyone’s attention when these were used during the recent presidential elections.
Fake news spread like wildfire all over the internet and was further disseminated through social media. This posed a very serious danger especially to those who are barely critical with what they read.
Then, it resulted in a whole breed of ignorance on public issues and pushed forward a political propaganda – pro or anti the administration.
And in the hands of online trolls, it could be twice as dangerous. This phenomenon didn’t only occur in the US but also to other nations as well.
There’s also the rising number of computer bots that automatically ‘attacks’ your posts or instant messaging.
Social media’s ease of use has become a double-edged sword for users. And in the wrong hands, it can propagate – or even brainwash – a political propaganda to people.
Movements and Revolutions
In line with social media’s power to influence, creating movements and revolutions by those who are ‘woke’ by reality can actually fight bots, trolls, and fake news.
Because social media was also a powerful tool to push forward and encourage others to join political and social movements or revolutions.
Some countries like Indonesia, Mexico, and Egypt have used social media to call on people to participate in political movements.
People now have the power to empower others and call for constituents to rise above the occasion when they feel like they are oppressed by their government.
This can be a good thing. People can fight off what negative propaganda fake news and other political trolls spread through social media.
But as Spiderman would put it, this power should come with great responsibility.
Bringing people together to fight for human rights, or go against legislation only for political interests, and so on must also be well thought of.
Therefore, movements and revolutions must not only for the sake of creating noise; it should also be to create and ignite change.
Up next: Social Media and Government Regulation (Part 2)
We’ll discuss how regulating social media can be a bad thing for the society and what we can do about it.