These days, an average person’s day starts with heading straight to the phone right after waking up. The phone then opens the shutters to a heavy inflow of current affairs – who said what to whom and how the world perceives it… and what not!
There is always some news that we immediately relate to or find relevant, which, without a second thought, we share. For us it ends there, doesn’t it? Apparently not! A few incidents in the recent past increasingly indicate the fact that these seemingly simple actions come with responsibilities and serious consequences.
The latest to find himself in this kind of soup is S Ve Shekher, a Tamil playwright, actor and politician. Uproar erupted when he shared a post on Facebook, which was laden with derogatory remarks on women journalists, especially in the wake of a recent controversy, when the Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit touched the cheek of a female journalist, in response to her questions. The post implied that women journalists sleep around to get work.
Tamil Nadu Journalist Protection Welfare Association filed a case against Shekher and he, in defence, sought for an anticipatory bail, clarifying that he had not read the post completely before sharing it, and apologised. However, his plea was rejected by the Madras High Court, who stated that sharing a post is equivalent to endorsing it.
While sharing fake news itself is bad, sharing controversial content without fully grasping its consequences is just as worse. And this, when done by somebody who flaunts celebrity status, gets all the more complicated, because of the influence and the accessibility they hold.
Naina, (name changed upon request), a city-based social media consultant, says when sharing content on social media, you are putting your reputation or your brand’s reputation online. “When celebrities share content, their words influence millions of followers. When fake articles get shared by influencers, they are basically giving their credibility to the content shared. They need to be selective and cautious of what they share,” she adds.
A lot of celebrities’ social media accounts are managed by their PR team, and they follow certain guidelines when it comes to sharing content. You too can pick a cue or two from them while using social media platforms: Naina lists a few:
Verify your source’s credibility
With fake news and articles easily created and circulated, we need to take the responsibility of verifying whatever we share. Share content from reputed sources or channels.
Know what you are sharing
Titles don’t tell the whole story. We need to make sure that we know the full context before sharing our opinion on social media.
Understand the whole context of why the particular hashtag or article has become viral before sharing your opinion on them. In certain cases, hashtags have been misrepresented since they can mean multiple things.