Social media platforms must stop abuse: poll

Respondents call for removal of hateful content

Amid debate over tackling the spread of hate speech and misinformation via social media platforms, a recent poll has found that 78% respondents believe the platforms should be held responsible for taking action against accounts engaged in trolling, abuse and harassment.

“Issues such as trolling, abuse and spread of misinformation is rising exponentially, leading to lynching and in cases, riots,” said Sachin Taparia, Founder of the online community network LocalCircles that organised the poll.

When asked what was the most practical solution for social media platforms to tackle these issues, 59% respondents said real identity should be made mandatory for all accounts, while 26% said the abusive account should be immediately blacklisted.

On who should be liable for trolling and abusive content on a platform, about 41% said it should be the users who are primary source of such content, 8% pitched for platforms to be accountable and 48% said both users and the social media platforms were responsible.

Asked if the social media platforms should remove offensive, and rumour based content pro-actively, majority 89% answered in the affirmative.

LocalCircles said it received over 58,000 responses from about 30,000 unique users across India.

Mishi Chaudhary, Managing Partner MCA (a law firm) and former Executive Director, told The Hindu that WhatsApp needs to show serious commitment to stop its platform from being used to spread misinformation without compromising security of the messaging app. in an open letter to internet-based messaging service providers called for modifications to platforms so users can no longer be added to group chats without express permission.

“Malicious actors can use this feature in highly abusive ways, most notably by creating troll-groups to subject their victims to large-scale harassment. Blocking such actors is ineffective as blocked contacts can still communicate with their blockers over group chats,” said Ms Chaudhary.

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