Towards a Social Media Policy
Role of government regarding social media policy was explained as “instrument to harness the positive use of social media and minimize the dangerous effects”. The approach to policy by the government can be “soft/light touch”, that is, self regulation most in use in democratic countries, “hard touch”, that is, government intervention in non democratic countries, and a middle path of the soft and hard touch is “government as the model user” which is considered as global best policy practice. According to govern- ment of Bhutan “Royal government of Bhutan sees social media as an important tool for operationalizing our Gross National Happiness”.
This was revealed at the discussion on social media policy and guidelines that took place last Wednesday organized by Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) . Presenting his views on the social media policy Dr. Emmanuel C. Lallana , Chief Executive of ideacorp – an independent, non-profit organization focused on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in governance and education, in business and the economy and in trans- forming society based in Philippines emphases internet based tools or sharing information.
He also made his argument saying that, there is a need to evolve the rules and norms for the productive and innovative use of the social media, but it is “not just government responsibility”; It is the responsibility of the society, parents, schools and the overall community. He also added the importance of making norm by saying, “use sticks for short term results but for long term results in avoiding violation of the rules and regulation will be norms”. He also discussed about Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, where, Web 1.0 is mostly read only web and information is downloadable, and Web 2.0 is widely read and write web which is downloadable and interactive, example, facebook.
He further emphasized about social media and said that “social media is a platform” as the content is created by the users, “social media is more about relationship” that connects with families and friends and makes the cost of working abroad not that high. He also gave the example of Iceland where the citizens are allowed to participate in drafting of fundamental law through social media. He also added that social media does not operate in vacuum, “social media reflects community” and “social media becomes a turbo channel for rumor-mill”.
He also discussed more about other social media, such as, ‘blog” as a powerful tool for teaching students as they tend to get bored by class “reading and writing” sessions and are more interested in creating blogs for broadening ideas and collecting information related to current issues, also blogs creates a trust between the public and government. He also defined Wikipedia as, “a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free internet encyclopedia” and intellipedia, “which is a encyclopedia for the spies/ intelligent and intelligence agencies”.
He also combined social media with education and said “education happens beyond the four walls of the classroom”. He further expanded the points in the following ways, “Podcast and lifelong learning” example radio lab, TED talks and Japan cast; “Forums and deliberate democracy” it provides the opportunity to citizens to expand their deliberation; “Youtube and public health” example of “Farmerbook” in India for providing information about farming through youtube among the farmers; “Twitter and social media” it provides a platform to provide information, example, use of twitter for traffic management in Jakarta.
Social media policy also has certain code of conducts for the users, such as, behave online as you would offline and be a good citizen, responsible, transparent, accurate, considerate and careful. It also provided guidelines to civil servants regarding “access to social media” which should be official use only and “staff behavior”, that is, civil servants code of conducts and ethics; and helps in capacity building through training for civil servants, social media literacy campaign and promotion of positive use of social media and counter attack negativity. MoIC plays an important role in assisting agencies in implementation of policies, monitor implementation, issue yearly report and review policy every 2 years.
The negligence and ignorance of the Bhutanese social media users, with the example of the recent incident in facebook about the posting of photographs of individuals who committed suicide was also discussed. . Social media is a new aspect for Bhutan but it is spreading all around rapidly. It has brought positivity as well as negativity and social media policy is a government’s approach to decrease the negativity for the population. But it is an incomplete step unless the users abide to it.