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Gagging Dissent

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Silencing the lamb may be easy, but social media is more of a dragon. It refuses to keep quiet. Egypt tried to tame it by pulling the plug on Internet connectivity but it didn’t work. The latest government to come up with a mechanism to gag social media is Vietnam. It has recently enacted a law classifying certain comments, especially those criticising the government, as a criminal offence. This is a step up from from its September decision to penalise social media users as much as 100 million dong ($4,740) if they are found criticising the government.

Looks like Vietnam is competing with China’s clampdown on social media, which the Harvard Business Review has referred to as the “largest selective suppression of human expression in history”. Indeed, if you happen to be in China and relying on the Internet as your primary source of information, chances are you would have little knowledge about the Tiananmen Square protests and the killings that followed. The blackout is courtesy the infamous great firewall of China.

In India, the government has been making noises about regulating the Internet but, as yet, has not come up with a model. Well, let’s just hope our communications minister doesn’t begin looking eastward for inspiration.

Brand Buzz

Social media can enamour even the not so social. The latest: Apple. The iPhone maker has bought analytics firm Topsy Labs which studies some half a billion tweets every day. Topsy  has also archived every tweet since Twitter came into existence in 2006. While it is clear that Apple wants to know what people are talking about on Twitter, it hasn’t revealed the reason behind the Topsy acquisition. “We generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said an Apple spokesperson. Well, studying the social is not the same as being social.

Dig The Data
Online Impact 

Just 1 per cent of the orders on shopping sites for Black Friday and the following week were generated as a direct consequence of social media interactions, says IBM, which tracks transactions across 800 US retail websites.

Social Sway
As many as 78 per cent of consumers say that the posts by companies on social media platforms influence their purchases, according to Simpler Media Group.

Big Share 

Some  33.25 billion pieces of content  such as web links, news stories and blog posts are shared every week on Facebook, according to digital marketing advisory firm Econsultancy.


Ronnie Screwvala
Founder, UTV Group
Amazon’s Drone idea is great for delivering the goods —  but what about when a customer wants to avail of return in 30 days policy

Chetan Bhagat
Amazing how Twitter can investigate, solve, judge, pass sentence and draw greater lessons for any case in 20 min while courts need 20years

Illustration by Anthony Lawrence

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 30-12-2013)