Defamation and Slandering on Social Media

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The virtual world is full of emotions, not all of them real and mostly negative. As we all know, negativity spreads faster than positivity and as a consequence of that, outrage and defamation is one of the most popular and frequently used tools to gain popularity on social media. This is evident everywhere, we know hate speech spreads much faster than original information based news, a toxic Instagram account which appeals to the most vulnerable human emotion gains followers at an immensely higher rate than an original artist who may be trying to showcase his art form on which they may have worked on for years.

While most of it is a flaw in the algorithm of these sites itself, it also reiterated the first line of this text. Most people on the internet are interested in hating someone or a group of people just because other people are doing it, that’s because it gives them a sense of belonging and makes them believe that they’re part of something bigger, thus giving them a fake sense of achievement.

In the light of recent events, relating to the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide, using that term because as of the writing of this text (4/9/2020), it’s still a suicide given the official reports. But it seems like the Indian media and social media believes otherwise. While the mainstream has almost turned hopeless at this moment, it is social media that we still have a chance to save, because both the creators and audience over there is dominated by young people under the age of 30 there. So getting back to the case, certain evidence points out a major involvement of a bollywood actress named Rhea Chakraborty in the case.

While it should have actually been the Mumbai Police or the Central Bureau of Investigation, it is quite evident that “keyboard warriors are doing the deed. All over social media, we can see multiple people, which initially started from star kids and Karan Johar, because apparently “nepotism” alienated him and was adept for the deed, the narrative shifted quite quickly when the deceased’s father spoke up on the topic and denied all allegations while filing an FIR in the Bihar Police Department against Rhea.

When this action came into light, the subsequent events in which the Mumbai Police didn’t take any action, the public outrage which was already high increased manyfold. People on social media took it upon themselves to provide ‘justice’ to the late actor. While hashtags like #Justice4SSR and #CBI4SSR did turn out to be quite productive due to the non competence of the Mumbai Police, there is another side to it.

The primary accused, Rhea Chakraborty who has been witch hunted by the mainstream media, is facing a lot of flack on social media too. Most of the people harassing her have believed that she surely is the ‘killer’ of the late actor without any official reports or court proceedings, and the deed they’re doing will lead the authorities to punish the actress for the same. While there is some evidence which supports the argument that the above mentioned may have been involved, it goes against the fundamental rule of our judiciary which says, “Innocent until proven guiilty”.

Defamation on social media is something that has been around since quite a while, it can either be political or cultural. Also the fact that it doesn’t just stay on one platform shows us clearly that its not just one platform thats promoting it. Twitter having trending hashtags, people going all over Instagram and Facebook to post stories and posts about it, usually makes it look like its all very organised and rather than the general public emotion, there maybe someone else pulling the strings, like a mastermind. The mastermind concept is quite popular in the field of politics, where social media agencies and IT cells are popular for pushing a particular propaganda.

While the cultural side of things, is quite based on public sentiment manipulated/aggravated by usually a person or an organisation with a large audience, just like in the above mentioned case, mainstream media was largely responsible for the outrage on social media. What this exposes is that mostly no public sentiment is actually ‘public’ sentiments, they are hidden emotions tapped in and exploited by people and organizations for their personal gains. Political parties remain or win power by creating outrage and the media gains TRP.

The key takeaway from this would be to encourage critical thinking so that one doesn’t get manipulated easily and can think and decide for oneself. Also as social media defamation is concerned, just because you think that you’d go unnoticed or whatever you said is right, doesn’t mean you should say it. In the end, the ones you’re harassing are also human, and that could lead to long term trauma and mental health battles.

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