Now, a Ban on Orkut?

A petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court for banning the social networking site, Orkut, which is owned by Google, according to this report. Apparently, the petitioner, a certain Subodh Balsaraf of Thane, found that ‘Orkut’ used “slang, rude and vulgar language” about the Maratha king Shivaji. Disturbingly, Orkut has already been banned in Pune by the police after the occurrence of a few violent incidents there.

I’m surprised. Does Mr. Balsaraf or for the matter the police even know how Orkut works? Orkut by itself does not post any inflammatory remarks. It is some people who are bent on stirring things up that start these ‘hate’ communities. I even know of a few ‘Hate India’ communities started by some Pakistanis on Orkut.

There is a feature on Orkut to report about such communities to the people who run Orkut. Apparently, if enough complaints are received, steps are taken to remove that community. Now, I’m not very sure how effective this report back feature is but if you have a problem about certain people posting defamatory remarks about your idol you should first write to the people who run the site. Banning the complete site won’t help. It will only cause inconvenience to thousands of others. Orkut is actually very popular among Indians and is used by many, including myself, to keep in touch with friends and people sharing similar interests from around the world.

There are all kinds of loonies on the internet who would like nothing better than to cause trouble and stir up hatred. We should be on our guard and not let our emotions blind us. A ban on Orkut will only be playing into the hands of such trouble makers. Apart from that, it is putting a restriction on the way people access the internet. A road, which in my opinion, we should never take as an open and democratic country. If not anything it will set a bad precedent. Tomorrow, there will be similar demands to ban all kinds of different websites just because they seem to cause ‘hurt’ to some people. For example, searching for ‘Hate India’ on Google returns about 3,210,000 links. Should we ban Google also for linking to such sites, some of which genuinely propagate hate against India?

If the court does end up banning the site, it will prevent access to a simple tool that helps enhance social interaction between people living in different parts of India and the world. I hope the Bombay High Court, after due process, throws this petition right out of the window.

9 responses to “Now, a Ban on Orkut?”

  1. […] Anil at India Unplugged reports on some interesting developments on the hot and happening “banning” scene in India. […]

  2. Vi says:

    I joined Orkut for a couple of months and then deleted my account, because I started getting a lot of spam messages and people I didn’t even know every day. But this is really extreme…

  3. narayana says:

    ban it i , indian should hate orkut

    start using callinglife.com

  4. Anil says:

    Vi: I agree, Orkut is not especially nice for women as there are lot of desperate men out there but that should not detract from the way it helps people connect. It can be improved (it is in beta by the way) but a ban, as you rightly pointed out, is an extreme step.

    Narayana: Now, that is a very good idea. Why don’t we hate Windows, Macintosh or Photoshop? In fact, let us hate the whole internet thing as it is a product created by the West! You should come up with more subtle ways of promoting a site. In the end please remember, ‘hate’ is a useless emotion. It does not help anybody.

  5. Zeph keyes says:

    It’s interesting how people will do anything to undermine things they do not understad. While I agree that networking sites can be a security hazard to women, I’ve found Orkut to have a relatively higher level of security. And the report-as-bogus option really does work. If i’m not mistaken, there are also a number of communities that specifically aim at reporting these bodus sites and individual profiles.

    ALhtough, seeing a site get banned just because it hurts one person’s sentiments, woulde be an interesting indicator of where democracy truly stands today

  6. Krishna says:

    There are both negative and positive sides to all the things. I hate it when I see a random despirate person invites any of my family memeber or my close one for friendship. But it has helped me to again connect to my best of friends who were long lost. I could not have imagine that i’m gonna meet them again. And that’s what these networking sites are for. I’m sure everyone will agree with this point. Orkut has helped everyone a lot. But everything can be used in a negative manner too. We need to control that, not ban the whole thing! Banning orkut is no solution.

    Talking of ‘we hate india’ community, I was sooo furious to see that community and the topics which were going on there. The community was closed eventually. Banning orkut just because of these things is like pretending to be unaware of the things going on. Its like putting your head in the mud like na ostrich. you cant change what they think. Okay, this is going a bit off the track.. but anyways, we can take preventive measures and control these kind of communities to be created. Its difficult, but looking at the rate of software development in Google, i guess it should not be too difficult.

  7. pooja says:

    its good decession govt banning orkut,it spoiling our peoples,our culture,married men and woman start dating its crazy so govt need to take goood good step

  8. Well. I sure would be unhappy. But whats up with the Government dudes…they having constipation or something ?

  9. khushi says:

    hey i like orkut and it is up to u to reject spam messsages. u can even block the site and allow only ur frnds to send msg. so its up to you. DONT blame Orkut for that. OK

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