NATION

Social Media Can be Beneficial, If Used Properly

 This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s  My Say in last night’s FBC TV programme, 4 The Record.   I unequivocally support the right to free speech but at
01 Aug 2016 07:06
Social Media  Can be Beneficial,  If Used Properly

 This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s  My Say in last night’s FBC TV programme, 4 The Record.

 

I unequivocally support the right to free speech but at the same time I believe that with that freedom comes responsibility.

But this standard is ignored in social media where there are no holds barred.
Racial and religious hate mails, threats of violence sadly are a common feature of social media.

The perpetrators roam in cyberspace hiding behind fake accounts and spewing their venom, making scurrilous attacks on innocent and defenceless people.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called on everyone to expose these stirrers and shame them.

While we have a Cyber Crime Unit that monitor’s social media activity, it does not have the capacity yet to nab these cyber bullies. The laws governing media as a whole also apply to social media but we don’t seem to have the capability to enforce these laws.

The danger about these hate posts is that it can incite people to commit crimes and cause social, political and economic upheaval. Our young people are some of the most vulnerable.

We cannot escape the fact that social media has become the most popular communication tool for people in all walks of life. Its pervasive influence is having serious social impact on our society, from individuals, to families, to communities.

Some say social media is a necessary evil. It has its advantages and disadvantages. Many people today use the social media to do business, pursue educational goals and simply to communicate and keep in touch. The list of benefits is long making it indispensable.

At the same time unscrupulous people prey on unsuspecting and naïve people for financial and sexual favours. What appeared to be innocuous initial contacts end with tragic consequences leaving victims hurt and miserable.
Then of course you have nasty people who are sometimes referred to as cyber bullies who use social media to attack people they hate, ridicule and harass them.

These are the people that Mr Bainimarama was referring to in his speech to students at the University of the South Pacific Open Day.

Posting of personal photos, images and messages between friends, relatives and professional associates is common and widespread. In some cases they have ended up in the wrong hands, people with ulterior motives. That is why we need to be careful that we do not compromise our reputation and safety.

Social media can be beneficial if used properly. But it can be dangerous and problematic if misused.

One of the inherent dangers is the manipulative impact of messages on the minds of people. Even if you disagree with a certain idea or philosophy, the likes and dislikes count could change thinking and perceptions. It’s called the crowd or mob mentality. It could mess with your ability to think independently and you could go with the flow.

The freedom of expression is an important provision of the Constitution as long as it does not violate the rights and privacy of others. To hide behind the veneer of free speech and fake accounts and cast aspersions on the integrity and character of people is simply morally wrong and illegal.

It is the act of miscreants with no moral backbone and courage who delight in hurting others for instant self gratification.

This does not mean that we should curtail the freedom of speech. Public debate should be encouraged because it is part and parcel of our democracy. But we should not allow ourselves to descend to the gutter level and turn things personal.
We should stick to issues and contribute to the discussion in a way that will add value to them. We can differ without rancor. This is in harmony with the true spirit of democracy.

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