Human Rights and The Responsibility of Social Media

The writer is currently pursuing master’s degree in English Literature from a public university in Lahore. He takes great interest in storytelling, current and international affairs.

Human rights are the rudimentary rights supposed to be enjoyed by all human beings from the moment they come to this world until their deaths. They include a person’s right to dignity, fairness, equity, respect and above all, freedom to do a myriad of things the way they want. These fundamental rights are everyone’s inborn rights given to them by universal human laws. However, these laws slightly differ from country to country as each one has its own set of rules formulated by legislative bodies. Freedom of expression is one such right that has been under debate for quite some time now. This right confers upon human beings the freedom to give vent their feelings using different channels. In today’s world, we have social media, which felicitates sharing opinions, thoughts, and ideas by building a community on other platforms.

Social media applications which include powerful platforms like Facebook, YouTube, micro-blogging app Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, have become enormously popular—among the masses of even developing countries— over the recent years. These platforms provide a space to all the people belonging to different fields of life where they can voice their concerns for the voiceless people of society and run campaigns for multiple aims. Unlike the mainstream media, there are no checks and balances for all social media platforms, and people can share whatever they want with impunity. The absence of surveillance makes them equally toxic as well. 

The most significant responsibility—among others —makes it binding upon social media users to share authentic, proven and hatred free information on such platforms. People having little to no knowledge instantly believe in whatever is posted by unknown sources and persons and start sharing without knowing that it can lead to disastrous consequences. For instance, last year, the incumbent President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, tweeted former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali’s death even when he was alive and under treatment in hospital. However, he died a few days later, but ex-PM’s family strongly resented President’s tweeting about such a sensitive issue without confirming the concerned quarters. Nonetheless, President apologised afterwards. When the leader of the state can fall prey to misinformation, laity and professionals are no exception then.

Despite all the concerns regarding fake news and many other darker aspects of social media, it is a powerful tool in the hands of ordinary people. When the power of social media is used astutely and sagaciously, it makes even the despots shiver and tremble. They think thousand times before taking any action against anyone as they are aware of the boundless might of social media platforms. Social Media is a power to be reckoned with.

Given the recent blitzkrieg and inhuman brutalities of oppressive Israeli forces on the defenceless and oppressed Palestinians, Twitterati and people on such other platforms incessantly highlighted the plight of the Palestinians and human rights violations in terms of Israel’s bombing of residential areas in the occupied region. Their active participation to show solidarity with Palestinians eventually resulted in rallies and demonstrations across the globe, which has undoubtedly been a good sign.

In short, this social media can be a double-edged sword and can serve and endanger humanity. For things to run smoothly in this digital era, it is incumbent on everyone to verify their information before sharing it with others, stand for what is correct, and disseminate love, hope, and Pluralism instead of promoting hatred, malice, and malice, parochialism and insular thinking. Life is just another name of love, whereas today’s world has confused it with several meanings.

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