It is disconcerting indeed that social media has evolved into a tool of torture in Bangladesh. There is unanimous consensus among the literati that it does more bad than good thereby giving rise to the pertinent question whether some of the features like Tik Tok and Likee should be banned permanently by the government.
Has Tik Tok been used for any humanitarian or academic purpose ever? Then what is the justification of having this nonsensical feature available at finger tips that only create sub-humans like Hridoy, Opu and thousand others? The news that over a thousand young girls have been trafficked across the borders in the recent past by some Tik Tokers came as a rude shock to the citizens. The unfortunate girls, from financially backward families, were told lies about lucrative jobs waiting for them on the other side of the border. They trusted their friends, started for the unknown and got lost forever in the dark world of prostitution in many neighboring countries. They had burned all boats behind them so returning home was considered impossible.
In recent times, Facebook and YouTube are also being used blatantly by anti-social elements to pass on video images of their scandalous lifestyle and activities. Some so-called Islamic leaders are using Facebook and YouTube to spread misinformation and in some cases hatred against members of other religious faiths. Such senseless use of social media has led to many unfortunate incidents in the country in the past. Even anti-social and anti-government slogans are being spread through these two social media channels.
Small groups of youngsters are allegedly buying and selling drugs of different potency and origin through using their Facebook accounts. This platform popularized shisha smoking and proliferation of shisha bars in almost all major cities and towns of the country. Groups are now selling and consuming deadly drugs like LSD and Ice through using Facebook. Recent suicide by a Dhaka University student, an LSD addict, has helped the police to identify and apprehend some members of the Facebook group and learn about the sources of the drug and the couriers. Some arrests have been made and the case is under process.
We have observed that all sorts of contraband items, like drugs and alcoholic beverages, find their way in to the country despite having many gatekeepers on the way. These are being sold and bought by a large number of people, especially youngsters. Surprisingly, the intelligence wing of the law enforcing agencies can hardly get hold of them at the borders, airport or the sea ports. They jump in to action only when a big scale crime has been committed somewhere. In case of Yaba, some consignments do get caught at the borders but the fact remains that the bulk quantity gets past the gatekeepers and find their way to the interiors of the country.
We know that Tik Tok and Likee are banned in some countries. We also know that authorities of Twitter have banned the account of former US president Donald Trump. As a result he had lost all contacts with his power base immediately before leaving the White House. He had used the account to spread lies and hatred. Very recently, Facebook has also switched off his account. This has happened at a time when he has been day dreaming of contesting the presidential election once again in 2024.
So, the question that arises is, if a powerful man like Trump can be given the punishment by Twitter and Facebook authorities, why can’t our government ban Tik Tok and Likee to save the life of thousands of our young boys and girls? I believe 100% of the citizens would be behind the government in this case.
Shahnoor Wahid is the Associate Editor at The Business Post