The role of the social media in fueling communal passions was a major concern flagged by Indian Chief Ministers at the meeting of the National Integration Council meet on Monday.
“Social media should not be used irresponsibly, it should not become a platform for those trying to foment trouble,” warned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, referring to the clashes in Muzaffarnagar as well as a fake video that forced hundreds of people from the northeast to leave Karnataka.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is struggling to cope with the aftermath of clashes in Muzaffarnagar in which nearly 50 were killed and 40,000 displaced, said social media was emerging as a key platform to spread communally sensitive material.
“The government must devise ways and means to trace those behind such inflammatory content and stop it,” Mr Yadav said. Concerns have been raised about the power of the social media after a fake online video allegedly shared by BJP legislator Sangeet Som on social media site was said to have fueled simmering communal tension in Muzaffarnagar. Mr Som was arrested on Saturday.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik called SMS and social media “a major threat”, saying that sensitive messages were freely exchanged over these platforms.
“There is no mechanism for surveillance,” Patnaik said, “there is a need for an oversight mechanism to control the spread of such messages.”