Use social media responsibly

Editorial

SOCIAL media has revolutionised how most of us live in the world, today.
At the same time, social media can be seen as a two-edged sword – it can be either a good or a bad thing.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, social media is defined as: “Forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.”
Our information system, some say, is polluted.
Every day, misleading stories, schemes, fabricated images and videos travel via our information streams online.
In fact, we live in an age of information disorder, an age where we see people deliberately pushing false information; this is known as disinformation. When this content is shared further by people online who do not realise it is false or misleading, this is what many call misinformation.
These agents of disinformation are only successful because we have a tendency to mindlessly share content without checking whether it is trustworthy.
Without additional sharing and amplification, many rumours and conspiracies would wither and die.
Court cases involving slanderous comments against other people is increasing and it is time social media users learn and take responsibility for what is posted.
Generally, when using social media, it is a common assumption that all users are solely responsible for their content – including posts, comments, likes, shares, tweets and retweets, follows and favourites.
Papua New Guineans who have smart phones are becoming more and more addicted to posting, tweeting, viewing, responding, opining, and sharing online – and what is going to come of it all?
As a general rule, nothing on social media is private.
The extent of untrustworthy information on social media is concerning.
The cause for concern is not surprising given that a good number of Papua New Guineans rely heavily on social media for news.
Until the early years of the 21st century, crimes tended to be committed away from the eyes of the majority of society, with traditional media broadcasting information about them often on their own terms.
Print media such as newspapers build relationship with their readers based on reputation.
They establish this reputation by carefully checking information before publishing it.
On social media, however, there are no editors, which allows all kind of content to spread without control.
While social media allows us to share our perspectives, ideas and concerns (as well as pictures of our favourite meals), the development of social media has also given rise to a new form of aggression.
Cyber bullying is a very real phenomenon that can cause significant distress and psychological damage, especially to those most vulnerable among us.
There have been numerous stories of young people who died by suicide after being severely bullied online.
Social media will most certainly continue to play a major role in our society for the foreseeable future and online conversations will continue to shape the attitudes, identities and behaviours of our children and their children.
Social media is here to stay.
Our job is to use it to enhance and improve our lives and to teach our children to do the same.
There is little we can do to prevent people creating or publishing disinformation, but those of us who use social media can take action to slow down its spread by becoming more aware of what we share.

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