Social media initially entered our lives more than 20 years ago, reuniting us with old friends and gleefully deprivatizing our way of life. Social media has had a phenomenal impact on our daily lives over the years. With global internet users spending an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes per day on social platforms, it has become a potent form of expression in the digital age. In India especially, there will be 658 million internet users in 2022, which represents nearly 47% of the country’s entire population.
The need to freely express ourselves in the language that is closest to us, our mother tongue, persists even as an expression has moved online, creating a digital connection between (mainly) English speakers from around the world. People naturally express themselves in their tongue. Users look for social media interactions where they can communicate with people who share their language, participate with their linguistic communities, and discuss issues of regional, local, or national significance without having to convert their messages into English. It is best to explore, communicate, and express yourself in your language.
It is essential to empower all internet users, whether they speak English or any other language if social media is to be used for the benefit of the public. In India, where nine out of every ten new internet users speak their native tongue, this is particularly true. Platforms designed for discussions in several languages are therefore urgently needed.
Putting language first to promote empowerment
is no longer an impediment in the digitally transformed world. And since the expression is a human right, it cannot be reserved for English speakers.
Social media platforms that let people freely express themselves on any subject and in their preferred language are necessary in a multilingual world. Due to the English-centric design of international platforms, internet users who were previously hesitant to use social media should now feel empowered to explore the space, interact, and have meaningful conversations with people who share their interests as well as with users who speak different languages.
Technology for accessibility
Innovative language-driven solutions that provide an immersive and hyperlocal experience are the way to go in a country where there are 22 official languages and over 6, 000 dialects. Every internet user will feel empowered to freely explore, express themselves, and communicate in this digital world. Products that comprehend the nuances and ethos of multilingual and multicultural societies will emerge in India and offer solutions that can be applied anywhere in the non-English speaking world, supported by disruptive technologies like natural language processing (NLP), which decodes human language.
In this “techade,” India’s “inclusivist” multilingual social media strategy would promote digital empowerment and democratise the voice of billions of people.