Muzzling the speaking bird

Muzzling the speaking bird

A debate on internet, especially social networking websites, their uses and misuses has once again taken centre stage.

In the backdrop of Assam violence and threat to the people of the Northeast region the government has blocked some websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts citing objectionable content.

While the government seems to have woken up to anonymous accounts now, hate pages on social networking websites have been there for long.

Even as, apparently, the social networking websites are being used for propaganda under the garb of anonymous accounts, a majority of population in cyber space comprises youth.

Metrolife talks to youngst­e­rs about government’s crackdown on social networking websites. A lot of people are calling this clamp down a muzzling on the freedom of speech and expression but youngsters don’t mind this muzzle if it is for national secu­rity.
Nitia Sharma, a PhD stud­ent of Delhi University says there is a need to strike a balance between security and the right to speech.


“A debate needs to be created but the government is imposing restrictions. Cyber security is a challenge but I am not in favour of restrictions on social networking websites. There are endless hate pages on these websites. Don’t know how blocking a few of them will help,” he says.

Amlan Dutta, a third-year student of Kirori Mal College, has similar views. He, however, supports the government’s crackdown on social networking websites if national security is concerned.

“If any riot or attack happens then we will blame the government. So, this is right in view of the Assam violence and its likely effects. We also need to look at the bigger picture,” he says.

Six parody accounts ‘misrepresenting’ the Prime Minister have also been blocked, saying that they could be mistaken as his official account. This is something that annoys many as the government is not able to take a few jokes.

Besides, many international leaders and personalities too have parody twitter accounts including the US president Barack Obama.

Tara Sharma, a second-year DU student, says by blocking social networking pages and accounts, government is in a way blaming the people for the law and order situation they are unable to manage.


“On Twitter, they are blocking parody accounts which are clearly stating that they are posting parody to entertain people. It is definitely not a crime,” she says.
For instance a joke doing the rounds on PMO Twitter account that has been blocked was @PM0India, substituting the letter ‘O’ with a ‘zero’. The parody account featured posts such as ‘Just checked my followers’ list. Mamata Di is still not there. But don’t worry, the government is stable.’

Shubhi, a third-year Hindu College student, says, “Blocking some pages and websites won’t help. Those who have to spread rumours will do so through other mediums. Under the garb of a security threat, the government is also blocking those accounts which make fun of them and speak against them.”

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