2016 US ELECTION AND ‘SONAM GUPTA BEWAFA HAI’ – FACEBOOK’S DOUBLE STANDARDS

The article’s Hindi version appeared on iChowk.

Suddenly ‘Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai’ has started spilling its content from the margins of social media and has started trending on media and, therefore, is subsequently finding increasing number of takers. People and other platforms are writing about it and it is becoming a public sphere chatter. Demonetization jokes on these Facebook pages have given it an added shot.

And we should be worried about it. Its growing number of likes should not mislead us that it is becoming popular. Rather we should go by the version that it is getting more and more notoriety with each passing day. For me, it is vitriolic face of social media (and Facebook). Stories are emerging that how different avatars of this ‘Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai’ Facebook pages are creating embarrassing and harassing situations for girls with the same name. They are being targeted by social media trolls and for many of them it has gone beyond the limit to ignore it.

Facebook should take cognizance here and should block such pages immediately. But will Facebook do so – in a market like India where the government and its regulatory agencies either don’t notice such content or simply ignore them?

It is well established that many multinational corporations adopt double standards for developed and developing markets. Products of similar brands will have superior specifications in a developed market like America while it will have many shortcomings, even defying the standard benchmarking, when it comes to developing markets like India – whether it was the Coca Cola and Pepsi controversy where their products were found to high levels of pesticides or the recent case of Maggi ban for not following the norms. Such cases happen even if India is a big market for all these companies. Insensitive Double standards!

It seems this holds true for Facebook as well. Facebook’s second largest user base is India where its annual growth rate is faster than the US, its largest market (but stagnating) market, as well as than the global average. So, the whole game here is about adding more and more users. That is the hard currency for social media sites – users and traffic – and content like ‘Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai’ helps in that.

Even if it is in bad taste.

But it is the Facebook content only that is giving sleepless nights to Facebook founder and promoter Mark Zuckerberg who is busy clarifying to the whole America these days that the content on Facebook is genuine and even if some fake content is there, it is less than 1%.

According to a piece in the New York Times, 44% Americans get their daily dose of news through Facebook. That means a lot of traffic and (the eyeballs that come with it).

Now the allegations are being levelled against Facebook that many fake news reports were shared on Facebook that were, in turn, shared millions of times (reaching to millions of people/voters) and helped prepare an atmosphere in favour of Donald Trump, putting Hillary Clinton in a negative light.

There were fake reports like Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump or the FBI officer under cloud for leaking Hillary Clinton’s emails was found dead or Hollywood’s star and a respectable name Denzel Washington had praised Donald Trump. These all and many other such reports were totally fake but given the reach of Facebook, it would have certainly helped Donald Trump, even if Mark Zuckerberg is on a drive to rebut such claims.

So, on one side, there is America where the founder himself has to come forward to defend Facebook – whereas in India, its second largest market – where there is fake content, where there is unethical extensions like ‘Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai’, where there are fake and anonymous accounts – and where these are spreading fast – there is no one to take care of it – neither in Facebook – nor in our society.

On Monday (November 14), in the aftermath of the raging controversy in the US, Facebook decided to include ‘fake news’ in the banned category on its advertising platforms. But what about the fake content that lies scattered here and there on Facebook – waiting for its ‘Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai’ moment? Humour and satire are the essential parts of our social ecosystems but obscenity and tawdriness can never be accepted in their name.

©SantoshChaubey

WOULD TWITTER REMAIN SAME, OLD, FREE TWITTER?

Selling Twitter makes business sense for its promoters. The San Francisco based company was formed in March 2006 and went public in November 2013. But Twitter is yet to make profit. According to a Reuters report, the total accumulated loss of the company since its inception comes around $ 2.3 billion and Twitter has not showed any profit since it went public.

But Twitter is just not any other social media or information technology Company. It has become a powerhouse of news, views and information. Any big news is usually broken on Twitter first, be it Osama bin Laden’s death or Prince William’s engagement or many other such developments. Even back home in India, the whole nation was waiting for Nawaz Sharif’s UNGA diatribe and India’s first official response on it came through Twitter only. Narendra Modi had announced his sudden Lahore stopover on Twitter only. There are countless such examples – India or elsewhere.

The another aspect of Twitter that is goldmine of news and views is that people, especially those who matter, tell their anger, frustration, irritation, joy, happiness, sorrow and what not through Twitter. Sometimes a controversial tweet becomes the biggest trending news of the day. Sometimes a tweet becomes the most direct message to tell your problems and grievances that potentially reach across the spectrum.

In that sense, Twitter has become more like a mainstream media outfit – with the obvious benefits of social media – there are no restrictions, no gatekeeping, no censorship – and these are really free. Yes, there are exceptions and government poaching but then where aren’t they? The good thing about Twitter is that it has fought such censorship attempts vehemently.

If we see Twitter sale in that context – the natural question that comes to us is – “would Twitter remain the same, old, free Twitter after it is sold to some big behemoth with multiple business interests across the countries?”

Don’t we know how big businesses lobby with governments and do compromises to keep their operations growing?

©SantoshChaubey

STOP LOOKING FOR ROMANTICISM IN LOVE. DON’T IDEALIZE FRIENDSHIP ANYMORE. :)

So, this year’s Friendship Day is over, or for me, the first Sunday of August. But this year, it seemed, like the Valentine’s Day, the Friendship Day is also going to see some meteoric rise in its profile in the near future.

It seems the Friendship Day is also on way to get upscale with a swift rise in visibility, relevance (or which way you want to look at it) and mannerisms (with all the reservations or slants you may have).

What told me that it was the Friendship Day was my cellphone when it started beeping the WhatsApp messages it was receiving one after the other – and dot at midnight – at 12 AM. There were many, so many that I don’t remember when I had received such a great lot the last time except the New Year wishes.

And the flow continued the next morning when I opened my Facebook account to check the feed. There were messages and wall posts by the people in my contact book. People were busy writing and singing friendship paeans, were busy liking, reacting and responding to the wisdom quotes explaining the real essence of friendship. Some were posting even songs and video themes.

It all sounded so good. It looked like the whole creation had become your friend. And the best thing about it was you didn’t need to put efforts for it – that you didn’t need to throw your so-called post-modern, over-liberal tantrums. It just happened. It was so spontaneous.

There were many who had not bothered about you in ages, those who had conveniently forgotten about your anniversaries (including your birthday) – but see the prowess of the communication technologies – it wiped out all the time lags in one go – all the grievances (if they really existed) – reconnecting you to one and all. All the distances got jettisoned in one go. It seemed more effective and direct than anything you could ever have imagined.

The mainstream media proved the “change” it needed to be for the Valentine’s Day to become a pan-India phenomenon – to become an intrinsic part from the cultural import it used to be – to gel with the ‘cool, urban lifestyle’ – to influence and civilize the ‘still untouched rural or small town life’ – and to co-opt the remnants who still felt otherwise.

The social media is doing the same for the Friendship Day, especially WhatsApp and Facebook – this Friendship Day told me. And its good.

So..Happy Friendship Day folks..(and my belated Valentine’s wishes for those who have taken a plunge).. 🙂

Yes, like everything else, a Valentine’s Day – or a Friendship Day – has both, positive and negative, facets. It all depends on you – how do you perceive life – that how do you see good to feel good – that if you walk the talk – that how do you walk the talk. It all depends on which side of the line you are – that you exude the new-age coolness from your persona – or you are still about the same boring stuff that defines an old school product.

It is like about your girlfriend/beloved (or boyfriend). It is for sure that your girlfriend (who may have become your life-partner by now – whom you see as the most sincere and committed person in your life) would have posed this question – “Though it doesn’t matter but can tell me how much do you earn?” – and you would burn the midnight oil in convincing her of the depth of your pocket – otherwise she would start with her calculations (or vice versa in some cases).

And you don’t see any conflicts here – because this is the new-age paradigm – the new parallel practical of the old school. There would be countless folks who would have faced this situation and would have acted in the similar manner. And the trend is only going to pick up – because such girls (or boys, whosoever fits the bill) are fundamentally correct. Financial security must come first. One cannot substantiate emotions just by big, old school ideals. For them, the practical considerations come first – even before initiating on the thought that would ultimately lead to the thought of being together with someone “special”.

And people are getting even more ‘cool and practical’ with friendship. Now the old school inhibitions seldom come into play here. Social media platforms like Facebook or Google Plus have made everyone in your address list your friend. They have categorized friendship in multiple layers and the best thing about it is you don’t need to be ‘chuddy buddy’ with someone with his (or her) best friend. And even best friends now have categories – like the one with whom you can do your routine time pass stuff at 4 AM – or the one with whom you can tag along with during your time out sorties and – or the one who can act as your ‘this number or that number’ before your ‘friends’ and so on .

And it’s all in the name of new-age spirit and newfound principles riding high on the waves of revolutions – first the mainstream media – and now the social media – the new communication technologies which have bridged the gaps – which have wiped out the distances – which have killed the time lags – which have caused the feedbacks (of every sort) to move in the real time – which have cocktailed cultures like a highly skilled bartender does blurring the lines of this or that side – and which have created perception of new identities.

Folks, just imbibe this spirit. Stop looking for romanticism in love. Don’t idealize friendship anymore. The new ‘cool and practical’ breed is as right in its approach to life as the old schools guys are. It’s just that they are populating the universe very rapidly now – outnumbering their old peers. The old school folks would learn to live with it.

©SantoshChaubey

SO..IT WAS THE FRIENDSHIP DAY YESTERDAY (AND ALSO NAG PANCHAMI).. :)

So, this year’s Friendship Day is over, or for me, the first Sunday of August. But this year, it seemed, like the Valentine’s Day, the Friendship Day is also going to see some meteoric rise in its profile in the near future.

It seems the Friendship Day is also on way to get upscale with a swift rise in visibility, relevance (or which way you want to look at it) and mannerisms (with all the reservations or slants you may have).

What told me that it was the Friendship Day was my cellphone when it started beeping the WhatsApp messages it was receiving one after the other – and dot at midnight – at 12 AM. There were many, so many that I don’t remember when I had received such a great lot the last time except the New Year wishes.

And the flow continued the next morning when I opened my Facebook account to check the feed. There were messages and wall posts by the people in my contact book. People were busy writing friendship paeans, were busy liking, reacting and responding to the wisdom quotes explaining the real essence of friendship. Some were posting even songs and video themes.

It all sounded so good. It looked like the whole creation had become your friend. And the best thing about it was you didn’t need to put efforts for it – that you didn’t need to throw your so-called post-modern, over-liberal tantrums. It just happened. It was so spontaneous. There were many who had not bothered about you in ages, those who had conveniently forgotten about your anniversaries (including your birthday) – but see the prowess of the communication technologies – it wiped out all the time lags in one go – reconnecting you to one and all.

The mainstream media proved the “change” it needed to be for the Valentine’s Day to become a pan-India phenomenon – to gel with the ‘cool, urban lifestyle’ – to influence and civilize the ‘still untouched rural or small town life’.

The social media is doing the same for the Friendship Day, especially WhatsApp and Facebook – the last day told me. And its good.

So..Happy Friendship Day folks..

Yes, like everything else, a Valentine’s Day or a Friendship Day has both, positive and negative, facets. It all depends on you – how do you perceive life – that how do you see good to feel good.

And also Happy Nag Panchami.. 🙂

Especially for us Banarasis and for the people (friends) from the eastern part of the country..again especially from (eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – well, I did not bother to go into more details – but the festival where we worship snakes is observed throughout India).

Worshipping animals is with us since the advent of human civilizations. So let them feel whatever they want to feel – let them feel if they want to feel superior by marking fellows like us inferior or backward or superstitious or over-religious or what not. For us, it is more about getting nostalgic. Anyway, let’s assimilate their good or bad feelings in the spirit of the Friendship Day.

After all, it is for sure that your girlfriend (who may be your life-partner by now – whom you see as the most sincere and committed person in your life) would have posed this question – “Though it doesn’t matter but can tell me how much do you earn?” – and you would burn the midnight oil in convincing her of the depth of your pocket – otherwise she would start with her calculations. And you don’t see any conflicts here. Well, there would be countless folks who would have faced this situation and would have acted in the similar manner. And the trend is only going to pick up – because such girls (or boys, whosoever fits the bill) are fundamentally correct. Financial security must come first.

And it’s all in the name of new-age spirit and newfound principles riding high on the waves of revolutions – first the mainstream media – and now the social media – the new communication technologies which have bridged the gaps, which have wiped out the distances, which have killed the time lags, and which have caused the feedbacks (of every sort) to move in the real time.

Folks, just imbibe this spirit. Stop looking for romanticism in love. Don’t idealize friendship anymore.

©SantoshChaubey

NOW ‘A KANHAIYA KUMAR UNBECOMING OF A JNU STUDENT’: HOW WILL IT FURTHER MUDDY THE WATERS?

An assistant professor of the Delhi University, who is also a former student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, has come out with an open letter addressed to Kanhaiya Kumar, the arrested and out on bail JNU Students Union president, slamming him for his recent ‘reincarnation’ and his ‘for women’ views expressed on the International Women’s Day terming him a ‘false revolutionary’ and misogynist.

And after reading her letter you can feel why she is so outraged – that why she cannot be dismissed.

And the way her Facebook posts with her complaint letters and this letter by the JNU proctor finding Kanhaiya Kumar guilty of the offence, using harsh words against him, and imposing fine on him, have gone viral is emblematic of a trend that is witness to the rise of the social media and how the mainstream media picks threads from it.

This trend picked out Kanhaiya Kumar from obscurity to put him into the nation’s conscience in a matter of few weeks only. And social media, well, can be his rapid undoing if he doesn’t read the path cautiously now.

Because anything and everything related to Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU is under intense scrutiny now and it is just the matter of days when something hostile will go viral like this revelation by a former JNU student has gone. She had written her first post on Kanhaiya Kumar on February 16, attaching hand-written copies of her complaint, but obviously no one took note of it. Also, the nation’s sentiment was more or less with Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU then.

She wrote her open letter on March 3, in the morning and Kanhaiya Kumar was released on bail later in the evening. He delivered a terrific speech that night in JNU that he termed was accumulation of his experiences in the jail. And so how could’ve anyone noticed this open letter then and there, even if it was very pertinent?

But after this, Kanhaiya Kumar started derailing, like an immature student, devoid of pensive thoughts (though still with difficult words). And so, anti-Kanhaiya Kumar images (and words) started finding inroads – with people now open to listening to the other side of the story.

And when she posted yesterday an unsigned version of this letter from October 2015 – letter that castigated Kanhaiya Kumar finding him guilty of obscene behaviour with a female student – it picked up threads – and went viral today when she posted the signed version of this letter.

KanhaiyaKumarDiscAction

This is the classic way the social media works – doing and undoing – making and derailing.

Let’s see how this big revelation, that is clearly anti-Kanhaiya Kumar, further muddies the waters. Any attempt to stonewall it or confront it with verbal bravado will only help those who openly opine against JNU.

And for us, the common folks, the loss of another promising leader – it is nothing new – especially after the Aam Aadmi Party experience in Delhi.

Here is the Facebook link of that assistant professor from DU and that former student from JNU.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SOCIAL BLOGGING

Now is the time to see Social Blogging as a separate category within the realm of the overall larger social activity that blogging is.

Having said that, the Social Blogging content should involve socially relevant and concerned expressions – whether it for activism – or – it is being in solidarity with – in opposing the unjust.

Bloggers have helped shaping the Arab Spring. They have started speaking for those who can’t speak. Blogging is becoming more and more socially responsible.

Bloggers have lost lives in dictatorial regimes, in restive countries and in orthodox societies. The most recent case in point is Bangladesh.

Social Blogging, in fact, is quite strong in oppressive societies where it gets amplified attention and the process that has begun will only intensify further.

Its next big leap is going to be in societies like India. India is a country that is the world’s largest democracy – a country with a robust democracy – but a country where the democracy has still a long way to go.

And the process will be business-driven, even if we scoff at capitalism! Business will lead communication technology penetration that in turn would arm more and more people with information access. Creating a blog or having an online identity to connect with the world had never been this easy.

Long live social media!

And India, the world’s second most populous country, with projections to have the world’s largest share of middle class in a decade or so, just rejected the initiatives of internet and social media giants like India’s Airtel or Facebook to dominate internet/social media by introducing differential pricing through their networks.

Long live net neutrality!

But its sustainability has to be perennial!

Let’s start a debate first and then a discourse to spread the word about Social Blogging and it’s increasing role and need in societies.

SocialBlogging-4

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SOME STRAIGHT THOUGHTS ON ‘SPIRAL OF SILENCE’ IN ACTION IN INDIA

THE QUESTIONS

— Is the ‘Spiral of Silence’ coming into its own in India now?

— Is the 2004 General Election a beginning point to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ in action in India?

— How is social media shaping the ‘Public Sphere’ discourse in India?

— Is India the next big leap for a socially relevant social media after the Arab Spring?

— India shows even the robust democracies can be the perfect social laboratories for the ‘Spiral of Silence’ expressions?

— Are elections the best avenues to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ patterns in a democracy that has loads of greys?

— Is the Indian democracy caught in a dilemma between being politically correct Vs being politically relevant Vs being politically apolitical Vs being apolitically political?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A ‘DISLIKE’ BUTTON ON FACEBOOK: DOES IT MATTER?

Facebook’s “dislike” button is going to be a disaster – Quartz
Get real Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s dislike button is too late – The Telegraph
Facebook Doesn’t Need a ‘Dislike’ Button – Here’s Why – NDTV
Does Facebook Need a ‘Dislike’ Button? – The New York Times
Facebook gives the thumbs-up to ‘dislike’ button – Financial Times
Will Facebook users like ‘dislike’ button? Opinionline – USA Today
Facebook is working on a ‘dislike’ button – CNBC
Here’s Why Facebook Wants a ‘Dislike’ Button – Time
Facebook’s ‘Dislike’ Button Is Going to Get a Lot of Use in Asia – Foreign Policy
Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button: Why It Might Not Be a Thumbs Down – ABC News
Facebook ‘dislike’ button in pipeline, says Mark Zuckerberg – The Guardian
Facebook Is Creating a Dislike Button, Mark Zuckerberg Confirms – Yahoo Tech

The world media carried out an intense debate about this ‘dislike button’ by Facebook, a development that is nothing but a delayed move by the social media giant – the largest social media platform by user base.

The social media platform that has remained there in spite of stiff challenges from challengers including from Google – it is in fact the only social media website in its category with a global presence. The most talked about challenger, ‘Google Plus’ is going to close its shop. Earlier, Orkut had also failed Google.

Also Facebook supports different media upload platforms. Other famous social media platforms are platform specific – like YouTube and other similar sites for video content – like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium or others for ‘blog content’ – like Twitter, Weibo and others for ‘microblogging content’.

Basically, every social media website is a content sharing platform – in any form – with any possible content as per the norms – but Facebook provides, in a way, to share all of them in one place – and has evolved over the years – based on consumer feedbacks – and loads of ‘algorithms’ insight into them.

Today, Facebook has around one billion users spread in different countries. And in spite of the site growing commercial with time, its role in mass protest movements like Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street or even in anti-corruption movement back home is well known. In fact, the self-propelled social concerns (by users) provide global sanctity to platforms like Facebook. In fact, they help these organization in covering their ‘omnipresent’ commercial streak.

Anyway, what Mark Zuckerberg ‘announced’ was nothing new – and certainly not for generating intense analytical buzz over different ‘contours and aspects’ of the ‘proposed or upcoming’ Facebook ‘dislike’ button.

In fact, the massive global buzz around his ‘question and answer’ session has once again proved the marvel of ‘sleek communication campaign’ that kick off spontaneously after every such development – in case of products reaching masses globally.

People started writing about it because so many people use Facebook. The writers were trying to speak on their behalf, even if a ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ button doesn’t do much beyond some case studies of anaemic effects of social media on people.

Well, the actual debate has to be – do we really need debates of this sort – like Facebook introducing an addition to elements of its site, here with a ‘dislike’ button?

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FACEBOOK INVASION

Social media invasion – well, it is one of the most intensely ‘debated’ issues worldwide – the invasion of the social media tools in our lives beyond the ‘perceived’ usage of the social media for us – and the two outfits are central to the logics of this debate – Google and Facebook – the two online giants with access to almost 3 billion users.

Here, it is about one such incident associated with Facebook that I witnessed last night.

Last night, around 11 PM, I was exploring websites of the carriers Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet for Delhi to Varanasi flights on August 15. While doing so, I was also in my Facebook account.

FB-1

Jet

Indigo

Spicejet

Suddenly, an incoming message drew my attention to the Facebook page. Nothing unusual! It keeps on happening and signing out of the Facebook chat app is the best way to deal with it.

Anyway, here the context is different, about invasion of the social media tools in our lives, going deep into the details of what we do and how we behave online to dig information for their commercial use, and my first hand experience of it the last night.

While visiting the Facebook page of my account last night while exploring the flight booking options, what arrested my eyesight and stuck me with was the advertisement bar of the Facebook page (left or right side, depends on what convention one uses to write so) showing advertisements of Jet Airways and the travel portal http://www.makemytrip.com for exactly the same itinerary of mine – Delhi to Varanasi – promising me special rates – as shown in the screenshots above.

Now, we know websites like Google, Facebook and many others use cookies and other information collection tools to makes heaps of information on the social media usage behavior of their users (in the name of tracking the online shopping behavior, a more or less accepted practice by the user who bother to know about such issues – but, it ‘must’ be limited to what we do on Facebook and what we do with its advertisements – certainly not with what we do on other websites) – but what this last night experience tells – that websites like Facebook are getting so deeper that they can look through what all we are doing online.

The last night experience was on marketing advertisements based on information collected on what I was doing on other online platforms than Facebook – means Facebook can have access to every avenue of my online presence – be it my online purchases or ‘online window shopping’ or my other personal online activities – or is it limited to collecting only the commercial information, something that is the ‘redundant’ sort of catchphrase of these companies?

But, like always, we cannot trust the defense of these companies – because, if they have the ability to see what we are exploring and purchasing online – then, they also have the scale to see what else we are doing while online. We cannot trust them on their mere assurance because they are yet to share with us the information they collect from us (on us, about us) by their online snooping.

Have they shared with you?

Yes, it doesn’t mean to shut our online presence, but we need to draw the line and need to very cautious about following this line.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/