50 innocent people slaughtered in broad daylight, and guess what, it was live – streamed through FACEBOOK. Yes I am talking about the Christchurch massacre, the radical white nationalist ideology in which Brenton Harrison Tarrant, an Australian, got enthralled with. That too, to such an extent where Tarrant went all the way upto New Zealand, just to prove a point which no religion would approve of.

Terror has no religion and blood is always red, and the sight of the colour red oozing out in the form of blood from innocent souls or mortal remains should I say, would drive any sane person to the brink of losing one’s nonchalance. Well, the point of discussion that I would like to raise today has nothing to do with what led to Tarrant taking the extreme step or what radical organizations he was a part of. These issues needs to be discussed separately, and I would be more than happy to share my thoughts with you, maybe sometime later. The point in discussion today is the role Social Media play under such circumstances.

Brenton Tarrant not only had the guts to commit a daylight homicide, but also was audacious enough to live – stream it in FACEBOOK and make the users go through the horrific ordeal for almost upto 17 minutes. Now imagine those unlucky FACEBOOK users who were unfortunate enough to be a terrified and helpless spectator of the massacre while their near and dear ones were being butchered in the name of some bullshit propaganda. I am sorry for my strong words, but this is not what any religion in the world will teach you. Gita, Quran or Bible, all preach love and selfless dedication towards humanity, let alone genocide and that too live – streaming it.

The question which comes to the fore now is what role does social media play and what steps to be taken under such unforeseen circumstances? New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raises a valid point when she questions FACEBOOK as to how the Christchurch gunman, who slaughtered 50 people during Friday prayers was able to live – stream the massacre. Using a GoPro camera, Brenton Tarrant on Friday broadcast the extremely graphic footage of him shooting people at the Al Noor Mosque via FACEBOOK LIVE. More dastardly was the fact that the live – stream was available to watch on the social media for hours after the attack, reported. Not only on FACEBOOK, the video clip of almost 17 deadly minutes was shared repeatedly on YouTube and Twitter, before good sense prevailed and was removed by the social media giant.

FACEBOOK in its defence states that it has acted fast enough to remove as many as 1.5 million videos of the attack in the first 24 hours itself. But is being reactive enough, or do we need a proactive approach. Mia Garlick, FACEBOOK New Zealand, states, “In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload… “Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content.” My question to FACEBOOK is, “Can’t you guys develop a mechanism wherein such propagandistic attitudes are severely dealt with?” Isn’t there enough violence and misdeeds happening globally which needs to be thought of and eradicated, why aid in spreading more? Make your system so full – proof that no Brenton Tarrant can use a GoPro and live – stream to the world about xenophobia.

It is not for the first time that social media websites are at the receiving end of a controversy. In the recent past, FACEBOOK admitted that millions of passwords were stored in plain text on its internal servers, a security slip that left them readable by the social networking giant’s employees. The blunder was uncovered during a routine security review which again highlights the basic security shortcoming on the heels of a series of controversies centered on whether FACEBOOK properly safeguards the privacy and data of its users. WhatsApp nowadays has become a hub for fake news circulation and child pornography. The government is doing its bit to safeguard moral rights of its citizen but this shouldn’t be a one way approach where one party is bound to go for a reactive approach while the other one goes on a damage control mode. An insensitive tweet, a politically influenced comment or a visual content high on violence can be the instigator of an irreversible spark causing mass destruction.

A very recent article which came up highlights INSTAGRAM’s exposure in ruining children’s eating habit. Making children eat healthy food can test the patience of parents. The exposure of children to social media platforms such as photo sharing app INSTAGRAM could make the job even tougher for them, suggests the study. The findings published in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ showed that children who view unhealthy snack images on social media platforms are likely to consume more calories from unhealthy snacks. “The results are supported by celebrity endorsement data, which show unhealthy food endorsements increase children’s unhealthy food intake, but healthy food endorsements have little or no effect on healthy food intake,” said researcher Anna Coate from the University of Liverpool in Britain.

In 2019, New Zealand was ranked by the Global Peace Index as the second-safest country in the world, behind Iceland. Look how quickly one man suffering from black ideologies I would say, was able to change that notion. Social Media is widely used for positive aspects such as health promotion, product launch, entertainment, networking and the likes but simultaneously is also being used by anti-social elements for their negative propaganda as well. This ratio should be widened to a greater extent so that these negative elements can be quarantined. Digital life and social media are a boon for mankind and their stake holders should ensure its convergence into a strategic asset, one which becomes an integral part of the human race. The companies associated with it are doing their part, but it certainly won’t be an exaggeration when we say that they can do better.

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