(Krishna Kumar is the former director of NCERT. The column first appeared in the print edition of The Indian Express on October 13, 2021)
- During a recent discussion in the US Congress, it was frankly acknowledged that for the big social media companies, profit is a higher priority than children’s mental health. A whistleblower of Facebook, Frances Haugen, said that her former employer company is “operating in the shadows”. She also accused it of hurting children and harming democracy by promoting social divisions. Haugen tried to reveal the technical depths of the problem that the young consumers of Facebook face. For instance, she tried to explain how the company entices its customers to linger on content, enabling advertisers to target more accurately, and so on. How far her audience grasped the complex details is hard to say, but they seemed to agree with her that the existing legal restraints on hi tech giants like Facebook will have to be tightened further. Such a hope has been entertained numerous times in the past.