The second-largest populated country in the world with diverse religions, ethnicity, and linguistic groups, is facing violent protests and riots continuously throughout before its unification and even decades after its independence from colonization. The government of India and some research institutes pointed out that social media has a crucial role in spreading fake content, hatred speeches, and other malicious stereotypes. The latest incident, which happened in the northeastern part of Delhi, the national capital of the second largest populated country, caused a large number of deaths and casualties, which the Home Ministry blamed on social media in particular. According to The Hindu, the government pulled up representatives of social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook for not blocking objectionable content and videos flagged by police during the communal riots in Delhi.
According to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), there are 1026.37 million active mobile users in India by 2018. 400 million people use smartphones, which is right behind China, which has 850 million smartphone users. Unlike China’s internet restrictions, which are a different scenario from India, Indian users use more U.S. and Western country’s servers through different technologies like VPN (Virtual private network). Data costs have been falling by 95 percent since 2013 – the introduction of high-speed internet has caused an internet boom in India. The government of India also helped to encourage digital money, online payment systems, and other digital services providing a lot of government services online. But the negative side soon grew high, and the majorly populated young age group nation found large importance in social media and its fake content, misinformation, hatred, content through the internet across the country, with lots of cultural differences, ethnicity and religious tensions, and even linguistic tensions that had a huge risk in open – social media systems.
In recent years, there has been a clear tension among Indian social media users which has affected common life under different circumstances. Hindu nationalists and left, secularists, Islam nationalists have formed two poles and started to raise hatred between them digitally. Hatred tweets, messages, fake content, and misinformation started showering among internet and social media users. The violence and riots happened in northern Indian states that caused a large death toll. When the Indian government introduced the citizenship amendment law in last year, which allows the citizenship to the minorities communities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Muslim majority neighboring countries, which cause to spread huge fear in Indian Muslims and secularists, where India saw violent protests in many cities like Delhi, Mangalore, etc. The role of social media was very big among these tensions and protests fake contents rapidly spread among polarised groups and finally, on the night of 23rd February, a riot began in northeastern Delhi – in which 48 people lost their lives in seven days and caused injuries to 200+ peoples and caused losses.
Internet freedom is considered a fundamental right, but for countries like India, it’s considered a huge risk. Almost all political parties and different organizations have huge exposure in social media and many political parties are caste fundamentalist, regional or religious. They are using social media for spreading their ideology and fundamentalism which is increasing extremism in the digital space of India – a risk for the nation and the Indian government blames Facebook, Twitter, and other social media for all the problems caused through social media.