The ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ toss up best described the position of critics of the social media in India over the last fortnight. The sting operation that claimed to have blown the lid off paid followers and likes and online carpet bombing through ‘cyber suparis’, was juxtaposed by an expression of outrage by the common man over the Tehelka saga. The narrative was also set by the social media.No matter how much the social media can be misused by vested interests, there is no way of silencing public perception through tweets or status updates. You may be able to send out mails to cronies in media houses to embargo or worse, kill a story. You may be able to buy followers and malign reputations for a fee. But no money or clout can muzzle the genuine users online. They will say what they feel, retweet what they agree with (the common twitter profile disclaimer of retweets not meaning endorsements, notwithstanding) or erupt with collective indignation over what they view as injustice. And this is precisely where the social media scores over the mainstream media.
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