With great power comes great responsibilities. When social media first came, power was with the people. Voiceless found voice, talents met opportunities, and free speech found a platform. Fast-forward a decade to now, it has become a forum of misinformation, hate speech, data misuse, and ceaseless marketing – and power has shifted from people to channel creators.

A month ago, WhatsApp, the world’s favorite messaging app announced a new “take it or leave it” privacy policy update. The update clearly stated WhatsApp’s intentions of sharing some user data with Facebook. After huge online backlash, the company announced it will delay the new enforcement from February 8 to May 15. 

Here’s WhatsApp’s initial response to the entire matter: “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

When WhatsApp users expressed their dissatisfaction at an even larger scale, the company pushed the enforcement date to May 15 saying, “No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”

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Everything is business

When Facebook emerged, its use was simple – to stay connected with your friends. When Twitter was introduced, you could tag your favorite celeb, political leaders, or anyone to get your opinion to them. While the concept of business was not there, sooner or later, we all knew this was going to hit. However, the goal must be to ensure people have a great time with each other and try to sell and not the other way around.

The platform for friendly conversations has become the platform for branding. 

On and off for politicians

Following the mob attack at the capital, Twitter banned the official account of President Trump along with several other accounts like to QAnon.

On Facebook, Trump was initially considered for a 24 hours ban after calling the elections rigged and trying to overturn the results via violence and protest. 

However, after the capital riot, both Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey decided to put Trump on an extended ban – one that would last for lifetime or till the end of his term.

Facebook and Twitter landmark decisions were the most visible demonstrations of the power of social media. Curtailing the abilities of the most powerful man on the planet isn’t something that anyone would have imagined so far.

Previously, Twitter suspensions were mostly related to ISIL accounts that promoted terrorism. According to Wikipedia, it suspended at least 1000 accounts promoting ISIL between September to December. 

Suspension of high-profile individuals was not a usual practice until recently. 

Whistleblowing vs inciting violence

Social media acted as the biggest platform to bring out the reality of government loopholes. People suddenly had the power to expose matters of corruption, discrimination, social injustice, racism, and prejudice via their accounts. One could easily capture and share the video of interest and tag associated personnels. And, the concerned bodies acted promptly to prevent the event from escalating. 

Lately, events of violence have been shared and watched more than anything else. What’s more disheartening is people getting influenced by it.

In summation, here are a few important things to remember the next time you visit any social media channel:

    • It’s necessary to understand the difference between ‘news’ and ‘views’; publishers often use this thin line of difference to spread misinformation
    • Think twice before sharing a post that has a sensational headline
    • Always check for the source before you take any action