With the recent growth of social media as a new staple in our modern culture, social media has also emerged as a concern for national security. It is argued that the internet and social media are constantly growing and changing but the national security has lagged behind. Although social media supports security system also through:
1. Improved intelligence capabilities: social network offer real-time, firsthand information which can be used for developing “actionable intelligence” by using tools such as big data analysis etc.
2. Support investigation: It can be used for effective engagement and policing. It includes methods-using platforms like Twitter for supporting investigations and to find information on offenders, supporting investigations by crowd sourcing; using photo-sharing site such as Flickr to publish photos of perpetrators of riots captured on CCTV etc.
3. Maintaining Law and order: During London riots 2011, rioters used Smartphone apps etc. to organize attacks, find police locations etc. However, the police and public hit back by using the very same social media technologies to capture rioters and secure their communities. In the case of Boston Bombing, 2013, the police successfully leveraged Twitter to calm public nerves and request public assistance.
Social media as a challenge in internal security
The authorities are losing the propaganda war. Social media is putting out its own account of events and encounters, aided and abetted by several thousands of social media accounts operating from across the border. Media is becoming a powerful medium of radicalisation. For instance:
1. Easy and accessible propaganda platform: ISIS is using this medium for Propaganda propagation which is fuelling competition among Terror Groups on Social Media for the same. It is also alleged that Bangladeshi terrorists were influenced by ‘hate speeches’ available online.
2. Many IS sympathisers are gaining ground in India; The Iraqi envoy has recently pointed to the possibility of IS setting up its sleeper cells in India- this is mainly with the help of foreign-funded seminars and preachers.
3. Many incidents of harassment via social media for eg. Recently Union Minister Maneka Gandhi sought to work on a strategy to check the harassment of women on Twitter.
4. Propagation of false/malicious information: manipulation of the social media allegedly spurred the mass exodus of north east Indians in Bangalore in 2012. In Kashmir protests where social media was used to inflame sentiments against the killing of militant Burhan Wani; he has been termed as martyr at various social media and foreign based twitter handles.
5. Mode of recruitment by IS: Identifying possible candidates who ‘share’ or ‘like’pro-IS literature, and then encourage them to share more content before trying to inveigle them into travelling to IS-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria.
Other issues with using social media
1. Legal challenges such as Internet traffic monitoring and privacy Concerns, fears of censorship and threat to freedom of speech and expression.
2. Accountability issues: Challenges with respect to fixing the liability of intermediaries.
3. Jurisdictional challenges: Complications in jurisdiction as Facebook etc. operate as subsidiaries of foreign internet companies with their servers located outside India.
4. Anonymity: Police officers have expressed concern over multiplicity of fake profiles.
1. Setting rules of engagement for all the members with repeated offences leading to suspension of the members social media account;
2. Social media sites should have special monitoring for accounts of members under age of 18 years.
3. A Central Government ministry should become the owner of the subject and should keep a close watch on different groups and forums in social media.
4. Besides, auto filters should be put to detect and remove messages with violence, hatred and anti-nationalism.
5. The Union government plans to come out with a National Social Media Policy soon. The policy will focus on countering social media propaganda that follows any communally polarising incident in the country.