Google should have blocked the YouTube video insulting Prophet Muhammad which led to the anti-US fury in the Muslim world and the death of the US ambassador to Libya. But, at the same time, we need a lively social media.
Facebook surely erred in temporarily shutting down the New Yorker Facebook page over what the magazine called Nipplegate. What’s so objectionable about this New Yorker cartoon showing Adam and Eve?
Apparently, under Facebook guidelines, showing male nipples is okay, but not female nipples – even in a cartoon.
Here’s what the New Yorker had to say about the incident.
We expect social media to both inform and entertain us – and tweets like this do the latter in spades.
Now that the government has allowed #FDI in retail, they should also allow FDI in politics – maybe we’ll have better governance
— The Bad Doctor (@doctoratlarge) September 14, 2012
FDI here refers to foreign direct investment. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday announced major economic reforms which would allow retail giants like Wal-Mart to set up shop in India. What’s more, foreign airlines would be allowed to buy stakes in Indian airlines. Foreign media houses can increase their stock holdings in Indian broadcasting companies.
The prime minister took the decision because India needs foreign investment to boost the economy.
The tweeter quips the country would be better run by foreigners too.
I am sure he was joking, but this is gallows humour – there is widespread disenchantment with politicians in the country because of reports of corruption and the endless bickering between the government and the opposition, which cannot agree on anything.
The prime minister’s economic reforms have predictably sparked a firestorm. His critics claim he is selling off the country to multinationals and hurting the common people.
Earlier, he was criticized by the Western media. Time magazine, the Washington Post and The Economist alleged the prime minister was weak and unable to take decisions.
Now he has shown he can take tough decisions despite political opposition.
Cheekily, this tweet suggests he was influenced by the Western media.
— sachin dixit (@ssachin_d) September 14, 2012
I think Manmohan Singh took a bold decision in the face of considerable opposition.
But surely there’s nothing wrong with cheeky comments on social media.
The question is where do we draw the line?
Obviously, the internet should not be used to incite hatred and hurt people.
The Washington Post has an article which refers to the YouTube video insulting Prophet Muhammad that has caused so much damage.
The article quotes Columbia University law professor Tim Wu who says: “Notice that Google has more power over this than either the Egyptian or the U.S. government. Most free speech today has nothing to do with governments and everything to do with companies.”
I think Wu exaggerates. Countries like India do not hesitate to demand offensive content be removed from websites. Western countries, however, have a tradition of freedom of expression.