Media is the self-proclaimed fourth leg of a democratic system and, supposedly, are the protectors of the rights of the citizen and voice of the common man of the country. The duty cast upon the media, print as well as digital, is to act as watchdogs of democracy and report the deviations to create mass awareness about the same. Except during the dark ages of emergency, the influence of media was predominantly evident in the social life of Indians. The information that are being published in the conventional media are either verified or originated from reliable or definite source. The said media are properly regulated and controlled by various government agencies and the reach of the said media are limited to specific jurisdictions. The information that are being publicized in those media are, though mostly agenda driven and influenced by socio-political background of the publisher, having the parenthood and it shall not feed the public with tainted information beyond an extent. Even if there are any such incidents, the Government will get enough time to arrest the same in an efficient manner and take corrective measures before it damages the social and political texture of the nation. Though the said Media had enjoyed the privilege of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India, the said freedom was subject to reasonable restrictions. The print and digital media were not allowed to spread unauthentic and unverified information which are highly inflammable in nature.
However, with the advent of Social Networking Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and microblogging sites such as Twitter and new age messaging mediums such as Telegram and Whatsapp, the manner of communication had taken a massive drift from the conventional style of print and digital media. Though the social media platforms are providing lot of freedom to express, the said freedom is presently unlimited and uncontrolled. Anything and everything can go ‘viral’ in those platforms and no one can verify the authenticity of the said information. As the communication speed in social media is faster than light, the Government will not get adequate time to study the matter and clarify it before the damage is done. Anti-social elements can hide behind the veil of anonymity and make any kind of derogatory comments about anybody and everybody, without a tint of authenticity and accountability. Due to the huge under-current of unverified and unqualified data flooding through the social media pages and messaging platforms, the Government is finding it difficult to clarify its stand before it creates wrong impressions in the mind of common man. Social media is a double-edged sword and it can harm the user himself, if not handled with care and expertise. We had witnessed many hashtags and proclamations without any basis and placed many wreaths on bodies of those who got lynched by the mob who had trusted those campaigns. The already limping fourth leg of democracy had got severely fractured due to the high voltage factionalism, regionalism, religionism, fascism and fanaticism predominantly prevailing in the social media and they are no more the watchdogs of democracy but are turned to be blood thirsty hounds.
So, under the current socio-political- economic scenario, it is very much important to bring accountability to the said channels of communication without putting unwarranted or blanket restrictions. In view of the same, The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were notified on February 25, 2021. <