The families of the victims of terror attacks in Paris, Brussels and Israel are suing social media giants including Facebook and Twitter for facilitating communication among terrorists. In a series of lawsuits filed in New York, the families of the victims have demanded the tech companies to pay damages for failing to stop the terrorists from using their platform and for raising money using their platform.
While the terrorists using the social media for secretly communicating messages among themselves is a cause of concern and the advent of technology has only facilitated this process, it is important to note that the social media cannot be held responsible for the ongoing conundrum.
Picture this. The Internet is like the universe, where the individual computers and smartphones are like the stars. And even though these stars are connected via a vast network of wires and cables or in this case the gravitational force, their identity remains pretty discrete. In this context, social media platforms are like various galaxies, that not only interact with the stars but also with the other galaxies. Translation: Social media platform not only connect the individual users but also other platforms.
Would you blame the galaxy if a star in its constellation collapses into a black hole? No.
Similar is the case with these social media platforms. While some individuals are using the services of these platforms to spread hatred and cause violence in various parts of the world, these platforms are not promoting these abominable concepts or aiding their likes.
It’s in human nature to blame and seek some closure for any hard-hitting incident. But the reason is above everything and so to blame Facebook and Twitter for providing a means for the terrorists to communicate is like blaming the humanity for creating terrorists. Granted that with great power comes great responsibilities, which in this case would mean taking down every piece of hate speech or suspicious accounts. But these tech companies are already hawking for anything that might disturb or disrupt the peace of the digital and the real world. To say that we can fathom the amount of time, energy and resources that go into hunting for the ill-willed accounts and posts, would be an understatement. Surfing for hate speeches and terror-related accounts on the Internet is as diverse as diving in the ocean and removing the pieces of trash from it, which by the way is not an easy task.
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While Twitter has suspended nearly 3,60,000 accounts in the last 18 months for promoting violent extremism, Facebook too is constantly taking down any related posts or accounts. If hate speeches and terror-related posts and accounts gain popularity on the web, it’s not because these social media giants have failed to their jobs well, but it is because we as a global community have failed to instil the principles of peace and humanity among our children. It is not the technology that has failed but it is the humanity and the cultural values that we stand for and the religions that we’re fighting for, that have failed us.
So, next time we go on blaming individuals or the technology for the chaos that has gripped the world, let’s take a moment to contemplate our contributing in making the world a better place to live!