| Manish Tewari |
Shillong, Sept. 24: State governments were today advised to have an “institutionalised presence” in the new media sphere to counter the “tyranny of hidden people” and provide users with accurate information.
Union minister of state for information and broadcasting (independent charge), Manish Tewari, while stating that “media is too precious a freedom to be left in the hands of a regulator”, advised state governments and district administrations to have an institutionalised presence in the social media pool.
He was speaking at a programme to commemorate the 69th anniversary of a leading local English daily here this evening.
Tewari said his ministry had established the new media wing which would address the communication and dissemination requirements of the Centre on social media platforms. The wing would integrate the communication tools horizontally and vertically through various social media stages.
The New Media rides on the back of the World Wide Web with 86.7 crore mobile phones and 12.4 crore Internet users, which is expected to grow to 37 crore by 2017.
There are eight crore Indians on Facebook and another 1.8 crore on Twitter.
“Social media is the largest ungoverned space, and never before in the history of mankind has there been so much power in the hands of the people concurrently located in so many places,” Tewari said.
He, however, cautioned that the danger to the democratisation of information space is the fact that the common rules of engagement have not emerged. He, therefore, said the nation’s need to agree to the common rules of engagement in the virtual civilisation to prevent any cataclysmic impact it could have on the physical world.
“The common rules of engagement in modern virtual space are fortunately not emerging,” he said. While pointing out that several chief ministers yesterday expressed concern about the irresponsible use of new media and the implications which come with it, Tewari said: “My own personal take (on regulating social media) is that it is neither desirable nor possible.”
As a solution, he said state governments and district administrations should have an institutionalised presence in social media, and for this to materialise, he promised that his ministry would offer the best practices on how to go about having an institutional framework.
Tewari further noted that while unregulated information was a problem, the supply of credible information should be increased.
On the idea of issuing licences to journalists, the minister said the government does not want to pursue something where there is no consensus with the industry and other stakeholders.
“I would be very careful about trying to regulate the media. I think media is too precious a freedom to be left in the hands of a regulator. But the industry should try and come up with a sustainable model of self-regulation so as not to provide space for the government to come down with a heavy hand,” he added.