The first thing I do in the morning is to check my Facebook news feed. I would go through it speedily to get updates on the latest happenings and discussions. As I was scrolling down this morning, a picture of a man hanging from the ceiling of a room came on my screen. A friend had shared that picture with a heart-wrenching caption. I did not have the courage to read that. This was not the first time I had seen such a post. With more and more people coming on the internet, the number of such posts in the virtual world is also increasing.
A few days back when Lahore and Venice were trending on the Social Media, one of my colleagues posted a video on Facebook which he had made himself on his way to the office. In this video, a dead body was floating in the rainwater. The video was not very clear. I thanked God but half an hour later he posted the close up of the dead body.
Should I know about his death? Yes, I should. Some news organizations covered those fatalities and I read all those news stories. Should I share the picture of his dead body on social media? No, It is unethical. We don’t do that even on mainstream media. We should also not do that online.
In January 2017, we saw a biased campaign full of hatred against the five bloggers – who were abducted by unknown people – suggesting that the bloggers were running a page named ‘Bhensa’ and they were posting blasphemous stuff on it. As soon as the bloggers were released, they left the country for the sake of their lives. In December 2017, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the Islamabad High Court it could find no evidence against them. Even this statement can’t wash away that blasphemy label from them. They are, still, blasphemers for the public.
Recently In India, almost 17 people have been lynched in two months after fake news of child kidnapping went viral on WhatsApp – all thanks to forward-as-received messages. Even a man who came into a village to educate people on the subject was lynched fearing he was a child lifter.
Social Media has given a platform to the people to speak whatever they want to speak and be whoever they want to be. Instead of using it for good, we are using it to tell lies, to mislead others, to envoke hatred and even to make grounds for someone’s murders.
It is the time we get some very basic but necessary social media guidelines for ourselves. Here I am writing some very basic guidelines which each one of us should follow while posting anything online.
1. Use decent language.
2. Do not fabricate the images and the videos to make fun of someone.
3. Do not share someone’s content with your name. If you like any post and want to share it with your circle, give the due credit.
4. Do not post vulgar, obscene and nude content online.
5. Do not post pictures or videos of dead bodies, blood or violence.
6. Do not post anything you are not sure about. If you still need to share mention where you took that information from.
7. Ignore the forward-as-received messages.
8. Do not share news from a fake source. Always share news stories of credible news outlets.
9. Do not comment on posts just to troll the people. If you have a point, comment if you don’t have just scroll down.
10. Do not send a message to a girl whose post you just have seen in the group. It shows your THARAK PAN.
11. Some of us take pictures of strangers and later share those on social media. That has just become a crime in Dubai. Don’t do that. It’s unethical too.
12. Do not share your password with anyone – not even with your partner. Moreover, do not ask your partner for their password. It is private.
13. Contact National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes in case anyone is harassing/bullying or threatening you on the internet. Yes, they do help.
Social Media is a very powerful platform. It can make lives. It can take those too. Use it responsibly. You are hidden behind that screen but your content is visible there. It is visible enough to claim someone’s life or to make someone’s good morning a bad morning. Think about it.