CHURUMURI POLL: Should Facebook be censored?

As if all the problems facing this glorious land—hunger, disease, death, malnutrition, farmer suicides, etc—have all been miraculously solved; as if all the scams facing this wondrous government—2G, CWG, Delhi international airport, etc–have all been cracked, Harvard University’s proud son, Kapil Sibal, has stepped in to crack the whip.

The telecommunications and information technology minister, he of the “zero-loss” formulation, now wants “social media sites like Facebook to prescreen user content from India and to remove disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online”, according to the New York Times.

According to the Indian Express, Sibal’s ire is motivated by the “derogatory, defamatory and inflammatory content about religious figures and Indian leaders such as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the Web.” (Not surprisingly, somebody’s created the hashtag #IdiotKapilSibal to express his ire.)

The attack on social media comes in the wake of the attempts to muzzle mainstream media following the anti-corruption campaign. Read together, it reveals a growing political distate for privacy and free speech, reminiscent of the censorship era during the Emergency, without a formal proclamation on the part of the Congress-led UPA.

There is no denying, certainly, that there is plenty of stuff on the internet that is vile, abusive, even verbally violent. But that’s the nature of the beast, its anonymity lends it an edge, and there is no denying that there is plenty of stuff offline too that is vile, abusive, even physically violent. But to seek to prescreen everything goes against the laws of the land, indeed it veers dangerously close to China’s (or more recently Thailand’s).

Questions: Should social media be screened? Is it possible to prescreen everything that appears online? Doesn’t the government have anything better to do? Or is this just another diversionary tactic of a government that is trying to cover its tracks?

Also read: Say ‘No’ to India’s blogger control act

How will media react if Emergency is reimposed?

Censorship in the name of  “national interest”

Bonus reading: The greatest poet since ‘Bhakti’ movement?

External reading: Medianama, Kafila, Khamba, IBN Live, Tumblr, First Post, Faking News, South Reports

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30 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: Should Facebook be censored?”

  1. Kaushik304 Says:

    According to me Facebook not be censored.If anyone abuse us,we can just block them.So,no need of censor for Facebook.

  2. pdk Says:

    I think this is a dangerous question to be asking. How can we question anything that helps the TV channels fill up the 24 hours in a day with hyperventilating heads? I’m afraid we’re going down a slippery path with this poll.

  3. Sapna Says:

    This is what will happen if we believe that India has too much democracy. The more “enlightened” souls will take up the task of telling us the “lesser” souls what to think and what to say and what not say…

  4. Suneel Sardana Says:

    Nowhere in the world such social & public platforms/websites are ,have been or can be blocked/banned .Hue & cry of Kapil Sibal is nothing but a vauge attempt of CHAMCHAKHORI to please P.M.& Shmt.Sonia as he is about to be dropped from cabinet for his always out of turn ugly uttering & behaviour. How many websites of the world ,Mr.Sibal can block? Dont forget Mr.Sibal, India is a sovereign democratic country & is no more the emergency regime of late Indira Gandhi where Kapil & alike were party to those black days of emergency & unforgettable bad blot on Indian democracy.

  5. Nastika Says:

    What about Digvijay Singh’s posts? Will Kapil Sibal censor them too?

    .

  6. delhizen Says:

    weird nah if we ppl give so much importance to such weak statements. Actually its all the debate around the issue which makes them huge!! ignore, laugh them out.

    Should social media pre screened? if you talk in terms of if ppl above 18 only should be allowed then yes. So many kids just get by it by faking their age. Some control in the right direction from social media networks will help but what a minster says ignore it unless it addresses some serious flaws in reporting events, news etc.

    Funny again and call me stupid if you feel like but no denying we make these leaders opinion makers … look this statement had a viral effect thanks to social media, right?

  7. dr ramesh Says:

    kapil sibal has been doing well as a central minister, his interest in developing world’s cheapest tablet akash for students across the country,his vision of education and some of the reforms he has suggested is commendable. i think he should do more on censoring tv channels which air bigboss, sunny leone on prime time news. country shall be greatful to kapil sibal and his govt. censoring facebook ,orkut may anger the youth ,which may impact their prospects in the next elections.

  8. Vaidya Says:

    Yes, censor it. We already love our govt too much, this will only increase our love for our dear super intelligent leaders.

  9. Brahmanyan Says:

    Censorship not necessary. We can always block the offensive sites under scan filters.

  10. Narasimha Says:

    This is the brilliant idea of Kapil Sibal and other Congress leaders. The reason or rather the motivation is straightforward.

    1. They are increasingly losing single majority at the center and are depending on partners to run the government.
    2. They are also losing power at the State government levels.

    The trick is to push all the power to the center. So make engineering exams common, medical exams common, communal violence bill is also at the center. So instead of sticking to Defense and National Security they want all State powers transferred to the center. They are succeeding.

    Then the people power and the media power still remains out of their hands. So Congress wants to take that away. too.

  11. Chu Says:

    Brahmanyan: not correct. To block one of the sites offensive to a business person, he has spent a lot of money on lawyers, on policemen, on babus and netas but still could not complete block the offensive site. If you don’t believe me I cannot post more details because the management does not want to see any news on it whether positive or negative on subj-judice cases.

  12. Indu Ramesh Says:

    Wonder if Kapil Sibal has seen the language and expressions used by readers in response to stories in the Newspapers on line. Just how many sites is he going to monitor?

  13. Narasimha Says:

    Indu Ramesh,

    It is not how many sites he is going to monitor….It is to target some one. 10,000 people may be writing 1000000 things offensive. They do not have the resources to monitor all of that.

    They will monitor those they do not like. It is called “witch-hunting”. It is also legal.

    i was speeding on a Highway was caught by a cop. I told him there are so many people doing this so why did you catch me. He answered in a simple manner. “You were easier to catch”.

    That is why I am always against more laws and more power to big institutions like Govt.

  14. Faldo Says:

    I am sure that a well educated and renowned lawyer like Sibal knows that such kind of censorship is practically impossible nor desirable. This seems more of a move to ingratiate himself with the top leadership of his party. Notice how the statement “…and Indian leaders such as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the Web.” has been crafted.

  15. Vindy Says:

    worried of a Indian spring? eh?

  16. mindryin Says:

    A never before told story of Kapil Sibal! For the first time on internet.
    mindry.in/blog/2011/12/06/a-brief-history-of-kapil-sibal-part-1-an-excerpt-from-our-yet-unpublished-book-india-2020-an-exodus-to-utopia/

  17. Vinay Says:

    Weren’t there some people here who were moaning that India has “:too much democracy”???

    This is what happens if you give credence to such statements and sentiments. People like Kapil Sibal come out of the woodwork to do their share of chamchagiri.

    “derogatory and inflammatory comments” are all highly subjective. Do we really want to give that decision into the hands of these wannabe thought police?

    Down with Sibal! Out with Sibal!!! Sack him.

  18. Bhagwad Jal Park Says:

    In a free country, adults need to get used to the truth that there will always be something that offends SOMEONE. That’s the price we pay.

    And it’s not even too great a price. As if abuse etc is being forced down people’s throats! One CHOOSES to visit a website. They choose to read it. They can always leave and no one forces them to stay.

    Moreover, it’s up to the owners of blogs etc to decide what content they want and what experience to offer visitors to their website. A lot of us even pay for the privilege of hosting our own site. Who the hell is the government to tell me what I can and cannot put on my blog?

  19. Saif Says:

    Right to free speech and not right to hate speech. Should the Government shut up if some one wrote ‘Mumbai blasts are just a sample’ just like the phrase ‘Gujarat and Kandamal are just samples’ which is among the most commonly used phrases by the internet minority haters in India? Only cowards who can’t bring down an elected Government through the ballot use the net to spread canards and hate, to further their political agenda. Any Government with an iota of interest in maintaining law and order will show hater mongers their place.

  20. Suneel Sardana Says:

    I have strong feeling that rootless people like Kapil Sibal, Digvijay Singh,Manish Tiwari & many others spokes persons of Govt.& INC are bent upon defeating the congress from Centre & many states which are being ruled by INC.All the hard workots being done by RG is bound to go waste completely due to anti public & non democratic comments of such so called leaders of Congress.Madam Sonia & R.G. must review & replace these such people if they want to remain in power. Due to Diggy selection of candidate in U.P.,congress will not even get the numbers what they are having to-day inspite of total corruption of BSP.

  21. JK Says:

    This has nothing to do with too much or too little democracy. Idiots running the country will screw it up whether you have a dictatorship or democracy.

  22. Venkatarama Muthuswami Says:

    HATE MESSAGES IN THE FACEBOOK OR ELSEWHERE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. DESPITE THAT,
    THE FACT THAT THE SUGGESTION OR RULE EMANATES FROM NONE OTHER THAN OUR SIBAL SMACKS OF IN-HOUSE TURMOIL.
    HOW ELSE CAN ONE EXPLAIN THIS PARANOIA EXCEPT THIS GUY HAS NOTHING WORTHWHILE TO DO, AS USUAL THESE DAYS.

  23. twistleton Says:

    you bet! for sheer mind-numbing boringness :P

  24. div Says:

    How is writing something on facebook different from talking about something in a bar? The only difference is that sound waves emanating from a talk do not last more than a few meters but what is written on facebook (can potentially survive for a long time and can be potentially seen by many people) although 99.999% of what is written won’t be read by more than a few dozen people. Actually, even talking over the phone or talking in person to somebody can lead to a huge movement. Effectively, “pre-screening” facebook would amount to taking Government’s permission before talking. Before you want to say something, first tell it to the Government what you want to say, the government will process your application and if they grant permission, you say it loud!!! This is where we seem to be headed.

    If somebody has a problem with some comment on facebook, they should just file a complaint.

    I always find it amazing: Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. are directly responsible for content posted by anybody according to our so-called government, but railway ministers are not responsible for rail accidents in India.

    similarly, telephone department should pre-screen every conversation because one could talk bad about Sonia.

  25. bhanu asthana Says:

    It is the first sign of a danger to democracy when the government moves to control freedom of expression. Government propaganda walks hand in hand with censorship. read this piece on a website http://governancenow.com/news/regular-story/net-loss-kapil-sibal-declares-war-social-media
    worth sharing..

  26. Suneel Sardana Says:

    In which capacity Digvijay & Kapil issue statement which is only resulting to hate & disliking against congress.What was the necessasity for kapil to speal on the issue of Facebook?
    P.M.& Soniaji must terminate immidiately all such anti congress aliments i.e Digvijay,Kapil Sibal,Chidembram,Manish Tiwari & so on to keep congress in power.What is being achieved by R.G. is disposed off by all these.

  27. Kumar Says:

    There is plenty of stuff that is vile, abusive and spreads hate online.. particularly churumuri by conducting destructive review of happenings arising out of frustration and feeling of exploitation from people who they think belong to forward classes.

  28. Anitha N Says:

    Hurting the religious sentiments of a large section of Indian society is pure bunkum. The religious sentiments of the Indian society never was, never is and never will be in the radar of these Congress politicians. The only sentiment they have is how to protect their Mother Superior Sonia Antonio Maino. Infact it is reported that in the first meeting with representatives of Google, Yahoo etc., Sibal showed a cartoon of Sonia and asked them to remove any such references of his Madam. Subsequently this religious sentiment angle was thrown in.

    Congress and its allies are masters in creating this smoke screen of religious sentiment on a lot of issues which is going against them. Take for example UID or the the Aadhar card project. Without getting into the merits or demerits of the project, here is what Aruna Roy- a memeber of the kitchen cabinet of Sonia- had mentioned. According to her, Aadhar might be used to target the minorities. Once she opened her mouth on the magic word of minorities, I knew that the fate of Aadhar is sealed!

  29. Nanu Nane Says:

    Censoring internet can provide jobs to millions of educated youth in India. That is the reason why Sibal wants this to be done. Please don’t misunderstand him.

  30. sanjeeva Says:

    If certain groups of people are following traditions and have certain faith, leave them alone as long as it is not harmful to the society. The question of whether it is good or bad, correct or incorrect is not to be judged by others who may or may not accept such practices. Reforms start within the religious group or community.

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