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In the Age of Social Media, Human Rights Revisited

Avik Chakravorty
Human Rights is a hotly debated global issue as there are growing instances of human rights violations. Therefore human rights are being defended.

As one of the world’s new and emerging economies, India’s Dalits are manual scavengers rummaging through and cleaning the dry toilets of other people who are high caste and carting their human waste. The menfolk usually clean the sewer and the septic tanks while the womenfolk would be carting piles of excreta in cane baskets to get rid of them. According to estimates hundreds of sewer workers risk their lives to the point that hundreds of workers die every year as they inhale toxic gases.


The internet in stark contrast is often believed to be a virtual space without any hierarchy but with unlimited scope and opportunities where the age-old caste system, race, and gender are non-existent. If it was to be assumed and also how the production, maintenance and ‘optimization’ of new media technologies exploring how some populations thrive and survive the fantasy of an internet devoid of humans are more often than not built on the premise that the bodies and the labor are invisible inclusive of the Dalits of death of others who are recolonized in lands far away.   

Colonialism was driven by the social imaginary based on the premise that the source or emergence of knowledge is in the West and its spread to the other parts of the world is a result of the generous imperialist spreading of tentacles aggressively. It was presumed that the colonization of the black and brown slaves needed to be civilized and therefore, colonialism was an endeavor that was unavoidable, full of righteousness and piety.


Dominant institutions of all kinds, inclusive of the scientific industrial complex, were deployed for justification claiming it to be true. In the meantime extraction from the colonies kept on providing the resources to stimulate the industrial revolution. Some things, including the production of various technologies using extracted colonial resources, bought back by the colonized subjects, creating vicious dependency cycles are existing even in this day and age.


The vast majority of technology companies emerging in the West frequently have been partnering with their very own offshore delivery centers for cost-cutting purposes. A case in point is the fact that according to estimates several hundred thousand people are employed globally in moderation of digital content. This massive workforce scavenges several hundreds of hours of video footage, a couple of hundreds of thousands of tweets and millions and millions of Facebook posts that appear on the internet minute after minute as they vet and removed if the content is found to be offensive, violent, traumatic or even obscene.


This is an example of the type of menial work also known as ‘digital waste’ that is outsourced to offshore locations in the name of optimization and cost-cutting. What the earnings of the Content moderators in India and the Philippines are in a day, the moderators based in the US earn in an hour which is the major incentive if not the only incentive for companies in the west to outsource their work to offshore locations as there is the advantage of these countries knowing the English language as well as being acquainted with the culture of the west.


What are attractive to the vast majority of corporations is the fact that there is no telling when cheap labor could be laid-off anytime or conversely employers could shut down their offices in one location and reopen in another which might be even cheaper location.

Indigenous Navajo Women were laborers producing circuits at a factory at the reserve maintaining a low profile for others to at least feel if not, in reality, be free and in control through the use of technology. It's been argued that historically the onus of digital media’s production of devices is disproportionately borne by colored women who create them. It's been discovered after delving into the historical data behind these technologies that both man and machine are absolutely essential for anyone to fathom the configuration of digital labor these days. The colored women’s labor in regards to electronics manufacturing or the digital revolution no one knows about or in other words they are unsung heroes.

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The launching of the PC revolution is a case in point that contributed to the rich history of offshoring that led to the Internet, and in turn, led to all other things. Besides, Navajo workers were regarded as possessing a mix of innate racial and cultural traits that could be enhanced or reformed to manufacture chips accurately, quickly, and seamlessly.

 

Like scavenging manually, chip manufacturing has its claim to notoriety as being a filthy business and workers at semiconductor manufacturing plants are victims of diseases related to pollution. Eventually, the Navajo nation did not derive any economic benefit in comparison with what it had hoped for or expected from the plant and had to live with the waste and its long-term effects.


Facebook, strictly enforces its mandatory requirement of signing non-disclosure agreements and once the NDA is signed employees are barred from even speaking to each other about their job profile. Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s speeches at the UN are broadly about optimizing the internet’s dominance and thereby leveraging human rights. In the process what he is after is showcasing and projecting his platform as though a bellwether of the freedom of expression, his company, has intimidated its offshore workers with a hefty penalty of a couple of thousands of Euros as punishment for violating the NDA.


Click here to connect to Vidhikarya’s registered expert human rights lawyers for further legal advice in this regard. 

 

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