ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Can Social Media Be Democratised?

Constructed as a marketplace of views, social media tends to favour privilege, and the privileged.


A 31-member parliamentary panel headed by Anurag Thakur has summoned the chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, to appear before it to discuss the “safeguarding of citizens’ rights” on social media. It has been speculated that this move is linked to Twitter deleting a number of “suspicious” accounts. It was also reported that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart L K Advani wants other social media platforms, such as Facebook, to be also brought before such a panel.

As the 2019 general election draws closer, the current government appears to have taken a special interest in social media. While there is a need to question the role of social media in electoral politics, we must first examine the “blindness” of their inquiry. The digital sphere has fundamentally altered the public sphere in India. Now, the process of “news gathering” has witnessed a structural shift, as traditional media—that is, print and television—and new media are increasingly becoming inter­dependent. But, to what extent do these structural shifts affect public discourse? Do they translate into votes? Given the kinds of socio-economic and cultural inequalities prevalent in India that limit entry into digital spaces in terms of both engagement and accessibility, can discourse in the digital sphere be seen as representative of political ground realities?

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Updated On : 24th Jan, 2021
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