Regularity of hateful content on social media and its effects on mental health

Today, when there is immense hateful content present on our social media platforms, it becomes very important to understand how they are affecting the mental health of a person.

Facebook India’s Vice President and Managing Director, Ajit Mohan, received a notice from Delhi Assembly for posting hateful content on social media. According to the notice, Ajit Mohan has to appear before the court on September 15.

NDTV quoted an official statement that said, “Summons was issued on the basis of scathing depositions of key witnesses as well as incriminating material submitted by them on record.”

The Wall Street Journal accused Facebook’s senior Indian policy executive of interfering in an internal communication to stop a permanent ban on a lawmaker of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Telangana after he allegedly shared hateful and communal influence posts. The report by The Wall Street Journal is the main source for the Delhi Assembly on peace and harmony to take such action.

A Facebook spokesperson stated that we prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we’re making progress on enforcement and conducting regular audits of our processes to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Last month, Facebook announced that it does not support hate speech or content that promotes violence. The organisation stands by its policies and enforces them globally with no exception to anyone.

Social media violence and exposure to it

Facebook consists of over 2.7 billion accounts, which means that the social media platform has 2.7 billion users. Facebook has a huge user base today, and therefore it is the responsibility of the organisation that no violent content is shared on the platform affecting the mindset of the people.

On July 1, 2020, Facebook revised its policies to make sure that the platform remains a safe space for users, where no violence or harassment would be tolerated. According to Facebook, it has extensively worked on system transparency and drafted the policies according to the 10 recommendations made by the Stop Hate for Profit boycott organisers.

To read all the revised policies introduced by Facebook, click here.

Social media violence can come in any way possible, and it includes a vast amount of varied content. It is very difficult to determine the impact of the same things in a different situation. The topic of social media violence is so vast that it has about 300 studies done on it with over 50,000 subjects.

According to Psychology research, “Exposure to social media violence can have many unwanted effects. One of the most common effects is that the person exposed to social media violence stops feeling sympathetic towards other persons.”

Adding to the lack of sympathy, the people exposed to social media violence also show an increase in aggressive thoughts and aggressive tendencies.

Today a person who has a large number of followers is termed to be an influential figure. And therefore, it is often believed that when an influential person puts something out on social media, it becomes a popular trend followed by many.

Children with access to social media platforms in earlier stages of life tend to suffer the most, as they shape their beliefs and mindset in hindsight of other people, which can cause grave issues for them when they grow up.

According to a study, exposure to violent television shows at a younger age proves to be the strongest predictor of violent behaviour in the future.

Not only has social media changed the pattern of interaction among people, but it has also contributed to a need to create a certain type of lifestyle or an image for a person. This need to create something similar to belong to a society of a mainstream group has contributed to a large increase in the amount of depression, anxiety, self-harm, anxiety, and also suicidal thoughts.

It is important to think and also take a break once in a while. Understanding that everything on social media is not a reality and a careful selection of influential content is extremely important.

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