2023 GS4 Answer

Q. You hold a responsible position in a ministry in the government. One day in the morning you received a call from the school of your 11-year-old son that you are required to come and meet the Principal.

You proceed to the school and find your son in the Principal’s office. The Principal informs you that your son had been found wandering aimlessly in the grounds during the time classes were in progress. The class teacher further informs you that your son has lately become a loner and did not respond to questions in the class, he had also been unable to perform well in the football trials held recently. You bring your son back from the school and in the evening, you along with your wife try to find out the reasons for your son’s changed behaviour. After repeated cajoling, your son shares that some children had been making fun of him in the class as well as in the WhatsApp group of the students by calling him stunted, duh and a frog. He tells you the names of a few children who are the main culprits but pleads with you to let the matter rest.

After a few days, during a sporting event, where you and your wife have gone to watch your son play, one of your colleague’s son shows you a video in which students have caricatured your son. Further, he also points out to the perpetrators who were sitting in the stands. You purposefully walk past them with your son and go home. Next day, you find on social media, a video denigrating you, your son and even your wife, stating that you engaged in physical bullying of children on the sports field. The video became viral on social media. Your friends and colleagues began calling you to find out the details. One of your juniors advised you to make a counter video giving the background and explaining that nothing had happened on the field. You, in turn posted a video which you have captured during the sporting event, identifying the likely perpetrators who were responsible for your son’s predicament. You have also narrated what has actually happened in the field and made attempts to bring out the adverse effects of the misuse of social media.

(a) Based on the above case study, discuss the ethical issues involved in the use of social media.
(b) Discuss the pros and cons of using social media by you to put across the facts to counter the fake propaganda against your family.

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS4 Paper

Model Answer: 

Ethical Issues Involved in the Use of Social Media

1. Cyberbullying: The case highlights the issue of cyberbullying, where the child is being made fun of and ridiculed both in the class and on social media. This is a serious ethical issue as it involves harassment and humiliation of an individual, which can lead to severe emotional distress and psychological harm.

2. Misinformation and Propaganda: The spread of false information about the father’s alleged physical bullying on the sports field is another ethical issue. This can lead to defamation and damage to the reputation of the individual and their family.

3. Privacy Invasion: The use of social media to publicly ridicule and denigrate the child and his family is an invasion of their privacy. This is ethically wrong as everyone has the right to privacy and respect.

4. Misuse of Technology: The misuse of social media platforms for personal vendetta or to harm others is unethical. It goes against the intended purpose of these platforms which is to foster positive communication and sharing of information.

Pros and Cons of Using Social Media to Counter Fake Propaganda

Pros:

1. Transparency: Using social media to put across the facts can bring transparency to the situation. It can help in clarifying the situation and dispelling any false rumors.

2. Wide Reach: Social media has a wide reach, which can help in disseminating the correct information to a large audience quickly and efficiently.

3. Support: It can help in garnering support from the public, friends, and colleagues who may not be aware of the actual situation.

Cons:

1. Escalation: Responding to the situation on social media can escalate the issue further. It can attract more unwanted attention and potentially exacerbate the situation.

2. Privacy Concerns: Sharing personal issues on social media can lead to further invasion of privacy. It can expose the child and the family to more criticism and ridicule.

3. Misinterpretation: The information shared on social media can be misinterpreted or twisted by others to fit their narrative. This can lead to further spread of misinformation.

In conclusion, while social media can be a powerful tool for communication and sharing of information, it is important to use it responsibly and ethically. Cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, and spread of misinformation are serious ethical issues that need to be addressed. It is also important to consider the potential consequences before using social media to counter false propaganda.

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