Day – 49
1) 49 billion People on average log onto Facebook daily; around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter every second. We become creators of data and information; our experiences in social media are dictated by algorithms. The social media drifted from its promise of exposing us to diverse opinions and expressions from miles beyond our location. Instead, we find ourselves to be more rigid versions of our former selves. In 1950 Asch Conformity Experiments found that an individual was willing to go to the extent of giving a wrong answer just to conform to the majority view.
The respondents gave wrong answers either because they did not want to be ridiculed or because they believed that the group was better informed than them. This continues even today and especially in case of fake news online, which is said to contribute to a polarized society.
In social media people get information only from people they trust and look for news that confirms their world view. This results in people cultivating rigid opinions of issues that they would have probably been more willing to discuss in the past. Social media sites are responsible for encouraging this behavior. Twitter, for example, will routinely prompt you to follow people who hold a viewpoint that is similar to yours. This just strengthens our biases.
A study this year on increasing social media polarization found that algorithmic filtering has created this cycle of enforcing and reinforcing belief systems and ensuring that we don’t open our minds to diverse opinions. While the democratization of discourse that social media has brought about is undeniable and most welcome, we are getting trapped in narrower world views that are seeping into not only voter behavior but everyday personal interactions. This is something we must be alarmed about. (20M, 250W)
Answer the following questions:
- Define tolerance. What are the determinants that lead to cultivation of tolerance in one’s personality?
- Do you agree with the author that social media has made us more intolerant than before?
2) Mr. X was the Secretary of Ministry of Defence. He is an intelligent dealmaker and he secured a deal with a foreign country for weapons purchase, along with transfer of technology. In order to secure the deal, he makes some compromises upon oral orders from your Minister viz. Minister of Defence. The pricing of the weapons is over-invoiced and the surplus amount will accrue to the defence company which supplies weapons. The amount is not exorbitant but Rs. 5 Crores only. This information is kept out of public access using Official Secrets Act by Mr. X.
Mr. X is transferred to Personnel Ministry now. Interestingly, a whistle-blower has disclosed the over-invoicing done by him but she lacks any evidence. She files RTI to access pricing details of defence deal. Chief Information Commissioner concluded that under the present RTI Act, the information is ought to be disclosed. The Personnel Minster and Defence Minister have decided to amend the RTI law to reduce powers of CIC and create loopholes such that some compromises made for securing national interest by any Ministry is kept in dark.
As a Secretary of Personnel Ministry, Mr. X is supposed to give green signal to weaken the RTI law by amendments and Personnel Minister asks him to do so. What should Mr. X do in this case? (20 marks, 250 words)