2013-04-28

Should Facebook be banned for Minors?

Former Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) ideologue, Govind Acharya move to ban Facebook for minors under 16 smacks of ludicrous understanding of social network and mirrors the image of conservative mindsets to curb freedom of expression. I nearly fell off the chair when I saw the idea of ban being vehemently supported by lawyer and social activist, Vivek Gupta on Headlines Today this week.
The internet nanny garb espoused by both Acharya and Gupta shows a one-way thinking spearheaded by not only a conservative mindset but an abject stubbornness which is absolutely ridiculous. There is no doubt that Gupta is eloquant and knows the law on the tip of his fingers. But, both man ignores reality and the silly attempt to ban both Facebook and Google + will only drive kids to the wall. There is no doubt that today's kids know more about the internet than our generation did. I have a two-year-old nephew who knows how to operate his I-pad and jumps on You Tube to watch kids videos. So does Amitabh Bachchan two-year-old grand-daughter, Aradhya.
Both Gupta and Acharya are basing themselves on the terms and conditions of FB that mentions that the social network platform should not be used by people below 16. First, how do we ensure that a 16-year old doesn't use Facebook? We are not opening a pandora box when we say that there are lakhs and lakhs of teenagers all over the globe surfing on social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. Haan, it is another thing that parents' must use their discretion in order to ensure that children do not misuse internet platform, are not exposed to porn or fall easy prey to pervert individuals hunting kids for sex.
The move that the likes of Gupta and Acharya asked the court in India to implement law to prevent usage of Facebook is an attempt in India to not only curtail freedom of expression but turn us into a Taliban-type of state control. We are not idiots and internet is a medium that ignites the spark within the human mind. It is an added bonus to children so that they are able to question the status quo at the tip of their fingers and news update has never been made so smooth fluid with the advent of social media. We are living in a globalized world and for fuck sake, India is a democracy and social network websites targets young turks. It is the segment that constitute the proliferation of net. One need to log on to Twitter and Facebook to see that the millions of followers commanded by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Tharoor, Karan Johar and Narendra Modi are mostly young people.
What do they want the law to achieve? In this age of information highway, we cannot treat bright and young minds in front of the law as criminals in the same vein as rapists, terorists and push them towards becoming anti-social beings. It is simply not done and the move by Acharya and Gupta reeks of a ludicrous stand and an abject attempt to cull on freedom and right of expression.
My main contention on the issue is how can the banning of new media help in curbing crimes against children. Firstly, by banning something, it will only acerbate the problem where children will try every trick in the book to gain access to the tool. We are dealing with young and inquisitive minds who will resort to any possible means, albeit, illegal ones to gain access. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google + are spread out and it is an almost impossible to curb its usage among the youth. Information cannot be restricted and both gentlemen seem to live in a fancy world that does not exist. In fact, it is a very dangerous thing to  do since we shunting our children from the world. True, we live in our own country but there is an external world outside our country or geographical region and by advocating the banning of social network, we are pushing young minds towards a ghetto.
As far as the law is concerned in India or any other  country in the  world which speaks of banning Facebook or  Google  Plus or for that matter, restrict access to those under 16, it is an archaic  law that is in dire need of being re-visited. We need to move ahead with times and certainly, we cannot follow the route adopted by countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or the Panchayat India whose vision is blurred by extreme religious and deep-rooted beliefs. Such obsolete laws need to be changed and it is not out of place to draw a parallel with a judgement of the Supreme Court in India that called for  same rights for live-in couples.
Lawyer Gupta went on record to tell TV anchor, Rahul Kanwal on Headlines Today and the guests present on the show, 'Centre-stage' that he trust his kids so much that they don't access social networking sites such as Facebook. One can only laugh at such sheer stupidity of a father whose vision is blurred. It's like saying that my son or daughter doesn't watch porn or smoke or for that matter get laid coz he told me so!!! Hell, in which world does this lawyer-father lives in?! I mean, will the child tell his or her parents that such things are part of their lives. Is Gupta surveying all the moves undertaken by his children? How much do we know about our own children?
As far as children being prey to pervert minds, it is not banning Facebook or Google+ that the problem will be curbed. Banning FB or Twitter to under 16 is not a solution and it has no relation to child trafficking, sex with minors or forced sex. Let's not pass the buck to the new media that has a power to spread awareness on social issues and all respected newspapers. magazines or even news agency targeting young minds regularly post updates on FB and Twitter. We are not willing to attack the roots of the problem of rape against gullible minds when we speak of banning something. It is not the solution and what is need is strong laws to prevent such crimes. Perhaps, a certain control is needed for kids surfing the net and it is the parents' responsibility to educate their young sons and daughters on the internet threat.
The same goes when some people, hungry for publicity, goes on national TV to cry hoarse that porn should be banned. Let's see the reality in front of us: Porn do not necessarily lead to rape and what is needed is proper legislation to deter rape and other crimes against women, young adults and toddlers. As it is, it is up to a person whether he or she wants to watch porn movies and somebody who is not willing cannot impose its views on others. The same goes to young adults and kids whose parents want to give them the best of both worlds by opening a Gmail or FB account and some moron cannot decide what is the best way of internet parenting. Certainly, a single person cannot impose its views on others in a democratic and secular society.
Today, what India or other global nations need is not some internet nanny who will decide what is good or bad and morally right or wrong. We are not living in the stone age and depriving a generation that has the 'windows to the world' at the tip of its fingers is an indecent attempt to deter the flourishing of information and killing a generation hungry for knowledge and learning tools for personal growth. We aim to become a super economic power and it is a tragedy that every time, a crime takes place we shamelessly uses it to push for our stone age ideals and hypocrite mentality.






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