The Role of Social Media in Mobilizing People for Riots and Revolutions
India, the second most populous country in the world, is also a country with a very high percentage of youngsters. Social media are popular amongst Indian youngsters. People of the 15–35 age groups use them in a higher percentage especially in urban areas. Social network websites, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular, but some young people also write on blogs. Initially used for making online friendship, developing relationships, business contacts and interacting with global masses, social media have recently been used for mobilizing youngsters for revolutions and riots. India has witnessed different agitations and road protests in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in 2011–2012 and 2013. During the Anti Corruption Movement and Mass Agitation against Delhi Gang rape, social media were fully exploited to mobilize people, to gather them and to raise voice against injustice and the faulty system responsible for high-level corruption and poor law and order situation in cities. But, in some other cases, they also served for spreading rumors, misinformation and creating panic and chaos amongst common people, specifically during the Ethnic Conflicts in Assam in 2012 and, recently, in 2013, during the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar. Domestic and cross-border anti-elements, non-state actors misused social media to disturb law and order by spreading rumors and uploading false content and images on the internet. In this chapter, the author has tried to understand the nature of these four events, the role of social media in positive and negative message creation and circulation, the patterns of information flow on social media and the impact of social media messages.