Shaken by the arrest of a 21 year old from Mumbai over a Facebook status message that, among other things, ‘hurt’ religious sentiments as per the colonial era Indian Penal Code and caused general inconvenience as per Sec 66(a) of the Information Technology Act, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took to stage in a Steve Jobs like manner and outlined changes to the popular social networking site to make it compatible with the Indian legal framework to clamp down on offensive content.
“Mischievous status updates that insult powerful politicians have for long been a nuisance, and it is high time we eradicate this menace to society. Our changes will make it easier for Indian law enforcement agencies to now nab such people,” he set the stage with a firm tone.
“All status updates henceforth will have to comply with all the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) before being published,” the lean figure thundered, leaving the crowd gaping in awe over the cutting edge innovation and the implications it could have. The billionaire winded things up with an apology to the departed soul, and a loud roar of ‘JAI MAHARASHTRA!’
The technical details of how things were going to work were revealed later. “An elaborate algorithm has been designed to verify any update with the relevant laws in ‘real time’, and publish them only after getting the clean chit from the system. Any form of disgust or disappointment will be allowed only if it is NOT directed at a powerful figure,” revealed a FB executive.
“This will be a win-win for both the common man – who wouldn’t have to worry about being hauled up for a malicious update; and the government – who wouldn’t have to diligently search for defamation across all nooks and corners. However, in case a defamatory update does get through the algorithm, we are also adding a ‘Dislike’ button, clicking on which the user can undo some of the damage done. Someone ‘liking’ his own venomous update can however look forward to doing twice the term in jail,” he cautioned.
Mentioning the religious beliefs and ethnicity of the users will also be mandatory, as it will decide if wishing a friend on a festival can be allowed or not. For instance, a person from a western state wishing their friends from the North a ‘Happy Chhat Puja’ would be deemed sarcastic and hence offensive.
Another addition that the company looks at making is a ‘Report to Police’ button which experts believe will expedite the process of the officials learning of the blasphemous updates. “You see, in the time that manual reporting to the police will take, about a dozen or two people would already have chanced upon the status. With immediate automatic reporting, we will ensure the status is taken down from Facebook and disseminated through mainstream media, thus restricting its reach to only about half the nation ,” he clarified.
Done with the explanation, an executive showed a demo of the new version with the update ‘Hungry all day dude. Damm this bandh is killing me’. No sooner than he typed it, that a pop-up with the words ‘Update deemed offensive, please edit’ occurred. Getting the pop-up thrice for the same update will send it directly to the Mumbai Police Facebook page where it will be verified.
Impressed with the additions made to the social networking site, Chinese authorities have also shown interest in letting Facebook operate in China.
(With inputs from Unreal Columnist, Lokesh Bahety)