After the Shiv Sena protests against Orkut, which they claimed was hosting communities that insulted Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Maratha idol Shivaji, the Mumbai Police has approached the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), a regulatory body under the Ministry of Information and Technology, to remove the objectionable communities.
Even as the Sainiks went on a rampage in Mumbai, attacking cyber cafés and warning the owners of others to ensure that the users did not access “offensive” content on Orkut, some members of the Sena were developing a software to block “unfit” content.
But it won’t be that easy to check content on social networking sites like Orkut. These are online spaces where members can post their comments and read comments posted by others on topics that interest them.
Since Orkut provides an open forum for discussions, a ban would be viewed as a curb on the freedom of speech, akin to the Chinese version of Google that displays only those sites that are approved by the Government. Café owners also feel that a ban on Orkut would severely affect revenue, as most Indian net surfers are also Orkut members. Even if the site is banned, CERT risks a public outrage, like one that was unleashed after the blocking of blogs in the aftermath of the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.
Even if the Shiv Sena gets Orkut banned, there are a lot of websites waiting to take its place
Face Book: The site is quickly becoming a hot bed of community formation and evolution. It allows for the usual; sharing of comments on specific topics, photo and video sharing, and ‘networks’ through which you can view people who live in geographically close locations. Apart from this, the site also boasts of a host of innovative features, such as a market place where users can list out things that they wish to buy or sell.
Yahoo! Groops: This section of the Yahoo site, allows users to form “groups” or forums on which they can discuss topics of common interest. The groups feature, is merely a comment-sharing site, you cannot directly share video or audio files through. Also like Orkut or Facebook, it does let the users create a page where they can display personal information they want to share with other users.
Wikia: This is a site created using Mediawiki, the software that was originally developed for Wikipedia. Wikia is unlike any other social networking site, as it’s a place where people with a common interest can create pages after pages of information they like to collect. In this way, unlike other sites, Wikia is not primarily for discussion, but rather for information sharing.
myspace.com: MySpace has developed into a universe of its own. This particular site allows users to communicate through whichever medium they are most comfortable with: forums for text based interaction, video sharing platform and even an entire section dedicated to music. Overtime MySpace has become the preferred site through which non-mainstream musicians release their music into the public domain.
Other networks like Zorpia and Hi5 are also popular in India.