The biggest danger of social media is the way it has and continues to be used as a propaganda machine

There were two articles in the news on social media recently, one from CNBC on how most trending videos in India on YouTube are often overwhelmingly hoaxes (click here to read it) and another from the BBC on how UN investigators have said the use of Facebook played a “determining role” in stirring up trouble in Myanmar (click here to read it).

The use of Facebook data to target voters and change election outcomes has triggered massive outrage globally but that isn’t the only bad thing Facebook has done.

Facebook must take at least part of the blame for the biggest human displacement in history triggered by the Middle Eastern crisis. As per the UNHCR, worldwide displacement hit an all-time high in 2016 mainly due to civil conflict (click here and here to read). Like in the case of Myanmar, Facebook provided a channel to spread propaganda and to stir up trouble.

Looking back at history, there was always civil conflict when someone hungry for power spread a message (often a false one) to destabilize those in power. Kingdoms fell, civil war ensued, and it took years to rebuild and for peace again. History has repeated itself. The channel of spreading the message was social media this time.

A man in Egypt named his new born daughter “Facebook” in 2011 in honour of the role the social media network played in bringing about a revolution (click here to read). Mark Zuckerberg was considered God at that time with people on television thanking him for bringing the revolution.

Did anyone hear about anything Facebook did to bring peace? Or to rebuild nations that have completely been destroyed? Countries like Egypt and Tunisia which once attracted tourism have had their economies crumble. For other countries it is even worse.

It is going to take decades to rebuild. Some 50 million displaced people might never go back to the place which they once called home. It is time social media is held to account.

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