Tracking abuse must not turn into creating fear

Updated: 28 October, 2020 07:33 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

Several people have been arrested for posting offensive content online. Some of this content includes conspiracy theories related to the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

This image has been used for representational purposes only
This image has been used for representational purposes only

The Shiv Sena, part of the state's three-party government, has a legal cell of 50 people tracking abusive rants against the government and the chief minister in particular.

Several people have been arrested for posting offensive content online. Some of this content includes conspiracy theories related to the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

One has to certainly maintain minimum decorum to prevent abuse and slander. With the freedom and relative anonymity that social media gives, though many of these posts are not anonymous, it is very easy or seems very easy to go overboard.

Vile threats and choicest abuse, much of it sexual in nature, has peppered social media not just in this context. It is natural that those who are the butt of repeated slander and defamation may choose to take legal action.

It is also important to remember that abuse does not achieve too much except pointing fingers and at times, retaliation in the same manner.

Yet, we must also take care that such legal cells tracking abuse do not turn into tools to intimidate people or stifle dissent. A front-page report in this paper has a representative clarifying that people are free to post their opinions, not abuse when it comes to the state government. That much is clear. However, we have seen such watchdog bodies being misused or a few individuals within them misusing their power to harangue and harass and in some circumstances, to extort. We must make it clear that though this paper's report focussed on the Maharashtra government, this applies to all governments including the Central government.

Citizens must be free to debate, dissent, call out policies that they are against and post observations. Counter abuse but see to it that this does not create an atmosphere where people live in fear.

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First Published: 28 October, 2020 06:06 IST

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