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Q12. You hold a responsible position in a ministry in the government. One day in the morning you received a call from the school of your 11-year-old son that you are required to come and meet the Principal. You proceed to the school and find your son in the Principal’s office. The Principal informs you that your son had been found wandering aimlessly in the grounds during the time classes were in progress. The class teacher further informs you that your son has lately become a loner and did not respond to questions in the class, he had also been unable to perform well in the football trials held recently. You bring your son back from the school and in the evening, you along with your wife try to find out the reasons for your son’s changed behaviour. After repeated cajoling, your son shares that some children had been making fun of him in the class as well as in the WhatsApp group of the students by calling him stunted, duh and a frog. He tells you the names of a few children who are the main culprits but pleads with you to let the matter rest.

 

After a few days, during a sporting event, where you and your wife have gone to watch your son play, one of your colleague’s son shows you a video in which students have caricatured your son. Further, he also points out to the perpetrators who were sitting in the stands. You purposefully walk past them with your son and go home. Next day, you find on social media, a video denigrating you, your son and even your wife, stating that you engaged in physical bullying of children on the sports field. The video became viral on social media. Your friends and colleagues began calling you to find out the details. One of your juniors advised you to make a counter video giving the background and explaining that nothing had happened on the field. You, in turn, posted a video which you have captured during the sporting event, identifying the likely perpetrators who were responsible for your son’s predicament. You have also narrated what has actually happened in the field and made attempts to bring out the adverse effects of the misuse of social media.
(a)Based on the above case study, discuss the ethical issues involved in the use of social media.
(b)Discuss the pros and cons of using social media by you to put across the facts to counter the fake propaganda against your family.
(Answer in 250 words)20

 

Introduction

 

The issue highlights the issues of improper use of social media and the emotional implications of bullying and intimidating behaviour on the well-being of a child.

  1. a) Ethical issues involved in the use of social media – Discuss:
  • Free speech and privacy:
    • While social media has offered a wide platform for the expression of ideas recognising the right to free speech, it affects the privacy of some individuals too.
    • Often, the aspect of consent is not taken into account while sharing information and details of people involved. This also compromises the privacy and confidentiality of individual information.
  • Spread of fake information:
    • The lack of mechanisms and institutions to fact-check information often leads to the spread of misinformation and false propaganda.
  • Lack of accountability:
    • The anonymity that social media platforms offer and the lack of regulations to trace and take action on misinformation lead to a lack of accountability among the false propagators.
  • Public harassment:
    • As there is a lack of accountability, any attempts of personal attack get easier with social media, leading to bullying and harassment with fake information and insulting comments.
    • The misinformation and defamation might affect the reputation and personal dignity of individuals.
  1. b) Pros and cons of using social media to counter fake propaganda:
Pros Cons
·        Being a public servant, it is appropriate to give clarity for any improper and anti-social behaviour to preserve personal and professional integrity, and not set a wrong example

·        Respect for the emotional and psychological well-being of the child who has undergone treatment for bullying and intimidation

·        Preserves the dignity of the family

·        Undoing the misinformation and offering clarity

·        Right to the right use of the platform in place of misuse

·        Acknowledgement of freedom of expression in an ethical way

·        Possibility of further propaganda and the endless chain of tussle

·        Implications would be felt on children (perpetrators) at the other end, which is not advisable again

·        Disregard for formal means of addressing the issue (E.g., through school management complaint mechanisms, law and order mechanisms)

 

Conclusion

 

Social media, while offering a multiplicity of opportunities, also comes with risks and challenges to privacy, confidentiality, emotional well-being, etc.

Having the clarity and courage to deal with such challenges is an uncompromisable necessity for both public servants and individuals of the common public. On the other hand, ethical use of social media should be taken as a moral responsibility of everyone beyond the legal regulations.