The emergence of social media has transformed the world in the most unexpected ways. Sharing thoughts and expressing opinions have become easier than before. Sharing moments of at different stages of life is possible with one click on various platforms. Its benefits are not limited to a single person. People have used it as a medium to spread awareness, start a movement, and influence others. The social media firms are raking in billions without creating any original content. They provided a platform to people to express themselves and they gained a widespread acceptance.
As every coin has two sides, there is a negative side of social media too. It has been used to spread fake news and influence people into believing something untrue. The 2016 Presidential elections in the U.S. was the perfect example of fake news and its impact. Major social media firms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been reprimanded by lawmakers in the U.S. and asked to take necessary actions to counter fake news. Moreover, there are fabricated videos that involve hate speech and content that is not suitable to be shared on social media.
Every country in the world has been taking necessary steps to prevent fake news, hate speech, and other inappropriate content from spreading. China has aimed to sweep the distasteful content from its two major social media platforms. China’s regulator for the media and entertainment sector, SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television), released a statement on their official WeChat account asking two major social media firms to clean up their platforms. The Chinese government demanded the photo-sharing service Kuaishou and the news platform Toutiao to inspect content on their sites and remove “inappropriate” content. Moreover, the order restrained new registrations by people who want to post videos on either service. It also demanded the content to be censored internally. In addition, the order asked to investigate internal teams responsible for reviewing the content. It also suggested the number of videos to be uploaded should be restricted to the scale at which sites can monitor them.
This is not the first time when these platforms have spurred the controversy. The government criticized Tautiao, the news aggregation app with over 120 million daily active users for its inability to stop circulation of pornographic content. It was shut down for 24 hours. Kuaishou, the platform with more than 100 million monthly active users, was criticized by state media for publishing videos that featured teenage mothers. Sweeping up the distasteful content from social media has been significant for the Chinese government. It has closed more than 13,000 websites. Its efforts to curb inappropriate material on these huge platforms show that it will take more steps in the future toward controlling and sweeping out the internet.
The influence of social media is growing. Users need to be wiser to determine whether to get influenced or believe what is shared on social media. Moreover, they need to use their conscience to use it optimally for their benefit and stop sharing inappropriate content. More countries will follow footsteps of the Chinese government. Moreover, it is responsibility of social media platforms to avoid spread of fake news and hate speech, but users also have responsibility to respond with careful and diligent thinking. Let us see how the declutter of two social media platforms will be helpful for China.