Context:

Farmers make time for social media to network, share and solve problems by discovering innovative farming methods.

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture (Agricultural Resources, E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers), GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Penetration of Social Media and its impact
  2. Examples of Farmers using social media positively
  3. Other benefits of Social Media
  4. Disadvantages of Social Media

Penetration of Social Media and its impact

  • Social media is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities.
  • As per a UN report, 47 % of the global population is online and among them, the percentage of social media users is rising steadily.
  • India has almost 600 million active Internet users as of 2019 and it is the second-largest online market, behind China.
  • The phenomenal rise of Social Media (SM) platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others is proving to be a double-edged sword in the functioning of democracies. On the one hand, it has democratised access to information but on the other hand, it has also posed new challenges which are now directly impacting our democracies and the people.

Examples of Farmers using social media positively

  • Clubhouse, the social audio app provides for a live conversation on the Indian Farmer’s Club where farmers share knowledge on agricultural practices, weather, marketing and crop management. Through the platform around 100 farmers, mostly from Maharashtra, discuss horticulture, vegetable harvesting, crop management, sowing time, marketing, innovations and more.
  • A Facebook post on farming beans spread knowledge on natural activation techniques of soil and the importance of weather.
  • On social media platforms, discussions are vibrant with farmers choosing the topic of discussion and presenting viewpoints rather than one way communication of information by other means like T.V. shows. Also, farmers can learn to do these things themselves on social media instead of calling experts.
  • Social networking and knowledge sharing on online platforms have opened up new avenues of opportunity for farmers while providing them tech-based solutions from knowing about different PVC pipes to discovering innovative farming methods such as using mulching paper in horticulture to control weeds in the farm.
  • A 2015 study by Meredith Agrimedia and a 2016 Farm Futures survey found that Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by farmers, followed by YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.
  • Social media is also used to lend emotional support to farmers under stress.
  • Though not all farmers are educated or have access to devices, the digital divide is not colossal as the younger generation who know to use technology help their family members.

Other benefits of Social Media

  • Social media is allowing the democratisation of knowledge and broader communication as people are empowered to bypass traditional curators of information and also become creators and disseminators of content, not just consumers of it.
  • People are provided with unprecedented opportunities to communicate/express themselves and experience a sense of belongingness due to SM platforms.
  • Wider and more heterogeneous online communities (at least geographically) enable better expression of concerns, ideas, experiences, especially by many communities in India which were previously not allowed to participate in public discourses/organize themselves and advance their thoughts and ideas.
  • Creating content needs less investment and is more often soft-skill driven as with assistance of technology, anyone can create competent, authentic, effective and fresh online content and express their creations through SM platforms.
  • SM platforms have also provided an alternate source of Knowledge in a world where mainstream media has come under severe public criticism for fake news and propaganda.
  • Social Media has also empowered common people to directly interact with the government and avail government services directly. E.g., tagging police/municipal corporations on SM platforms in various cities like Bangalore and Mumbai for resolving issues.

Disadvantages of Social Media

  • Hate Speech on Social Media had a big role in the Delhi Riots of 2020 and there are numerous incidents of hate speech and rumors fueled by WhatsApp and other SM platforms, being responsible for acts of violence and deaths.
  • A 2019 Microsoft study found that over 64% of Indians encounter fake news online, the highest reported amongst the 22 countries surveyed. Fake news spreading through social media platforms and messaging services like WhatsApp makes it harder to distinguish between misinformation and credible facts.
  • Trolling is the new bi product of Social Media as there are countless incidents of internet bullies taking law in their own hand and trolling/threatening those who don’t agree with their views or narratives.
  • Women face cyber rape and threats that affect their dignity severely. Sometimes their pictures and videos are leaked with and are forced to cyber bullying.

-Source: The Hindu

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