Social Media responsibilities and laws

Social media is a very powerful tool in today’s world. Social media has many advantages along with just connecting with our friends. It has become an one stop place where we can find any information or content. Social media has empowered the internet user today.  Many Social Media websites and applications provide us a platform to express our opinion with the world which make it the best tool for the right of freedom of expression for a common citizen. We can connect with our ministers or administration, write our opinions on social/political issues, promote our business and many other things.

We can get any news from any part of the world in minutes that too on our cell phones. Anyone having a phone and internet access can post or broadcast anything from anywhere. Anyone can contact or chat with any person in the world. The social media has brought us closer and connected round the clock.

But with the power comes the responsibilities and with certain rights comes the duties. There are certain rights we can enjoy and some responsibilities we should abide in social media. There are some cases explained below, where cyber laws can be enforced which we must care about while using social media.

Fake News/ Rumours:

Facebook and Twitter are the most common social networks for information sharing. We tend to share what we like or what outrage us on a certain issue. Usually, the posts on Nationalism, religion, and politics go viral.  There are thousands of Facebook pages having a large number of followers which fuels these viral posts. But sometimes people share the posts which are fake or distorted news without checking the authenticity of the content. Even some renowned news agencies fall for these fake news. There are many instances when the fake stories have created communal tensions.

There are certain laws for these fake news which can be acted upon if we found Insulting Religion Or Religious Beliefs (Section 295A), Promoting Enmity Between Groups On Grounds Of Religion, Race Etc. (Section 153A). Where the source of the information and the social media handles which spread the news can be charged.

Defamatory comment or material against someone:

If you post anything on social media which can damage or malign the public image of a person, he/she can sue you under section 499 of IPC.

Abusive/Offensive Content:

There are many cases when guys post abusive or offensive comments or send abusive messages, especially to the females. Many girls have used social media itself to expose such profiles. Anyone found indulging in such activities can be tried under section 509 (Insulting The Modesty Of A Woman).

Simply do not send or post any thing abusive on social media.

Obscene Content:

Posting or sharing pornographic content is also illegal. Sale, distribution, public exhibition and circulation of any kind of obscene content including pornographic content is prohibited under section 292 of IPC. Publishing or circulating obscene photographs or videos of women is also punishable under sections 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Copyright Content:

Copyright Act 1957 also safeguards digital content like images, videos or any other literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works from unauthorised use. Publishing or distributing copyrighted material without prior permission of the owner is a punishable offense.

Viewing or distributing copyrighted content or pirated content on blocked sites can lead up to three years of imprisonment.

What to do  if you find any user violating these laws

There are many cases when users especially girls receive obscene messages. If you receive any such message or you find your personal images circulating online, you must report to the cyber cell of the police. Some states and cities have the provision of online complaint. Alternatively, you can report to your nearest police station. The Police will forward the case to the cyber cell itself for the investigation.

What are the Do’s and Dont’s

  • Don’t post or share any sensitive content or photograph which can incite communal tensions. Always confirm this type of information from 2-3 credible sources before posting or sharing.
  • Don’t post any such comment which can defame anyone’s public image.
  • Do not post or share any abusive or offensive content.
  • Don’t send offensive or obscene messages to anybody.
  • Don’t post share any obscene content.
  • Do not post copyrighted content without prior permission from the owner or give adequate credit to the owner.
  • Don’t circulate pirated videos or movies.
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