Use so­cial me­dia to create healthy po­lit­i­cal scene, urges lec­turer

New Straits Times - - News -

PUTRAJAYA: The rise of so­cial me­dia ap­pli­ca­tions has pro­vided in­di­vid­u­als with a plat­form to spread ex­trem­ist ide­olo­gies and false in­for­ma­tion, said an aca­demi­cian yes­ter­day.

Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Me­dia Stud­ies Fac­ulty lec­turer As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Dr Is­mail Sual­man said the spread of ex­trem­ist pro­pa­ganda, in­clud­ing un­ver­i­fied in­for­ma­tion, was dan­ger­ous as it could in­flu­ence the peo­ple.

“News, pic­tures and data spread on so­cial me­dia are of­ten pack­aged as as­sump­tions and ac­cu­sa­tions. They can dom­i­nate and shape a per­son’s per­cep­tion of ex­trem­ism.

“And to make mat­ters worse, peo­ple are spread­ing mes­sages they re­ceived with­out ver­i­fy­ing them with rel­e­vant sources,” he said at the In­ter­na­tional Wasatiyyah Sem­i­nar 2017 held at Putrajaya In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre here, yes­ter­day.

Is­mail added that some so­cial me­dia users would la­bel the in­for­ma­tion they shared as news even if they were fab­ri­cated.

“It is clear that these ex­treme per­cep­tions are able to dam­age a coun­try and its peo­ple.

“Bear in mind that these per­cep­tions can only be used for one’s po­lit­i­cal gain.”

Such per­cep­tions, he said, would not only create chaos and panic, but also erode the peo­ple’s trust in their lead­ers.

“Is it fair to let this go on? Free­dom of ex­pres­sion is achieved, but at what cost?

“Is this the char­ac­ter­is­tic of a de­vel­oped na­tion that we have dreamt of all this while?” he asked.

Is­mail said “vi­ral” in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to ex­trem­ism must be con­trolled to pre­vent “larger ” prob­lems in the fu­ture.

He said po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions, for ex­am­ple, must prac­tise mod­er­ate pol­i­tics to create a har­mo­nious po­lit­i­cal arena.

“Ma­tu­rity in pol­i­tics is based on deep thought, data and ar­gu­ments, es­pe­cially from po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“Sadly, many politi­cians to­day care more about their po­lit­i­cal mileage than up­hold­ing their own re­li­gion. If this con­tin­ues, I fear that the gov­ern­ment may not be able to im­ple­ment its poli­cies well and we may not re­main a pros­per­ous na­tion.”

Is­mail called on Malaysians to make use of to­day’s tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments to create a healthy po­lit­i­cal scene that con­nected lead­ers with the peo­ple.

“I hope our lead­ers con­tinue to use so­cial me­dia con­sis­tently to get feed­back from the peo­ple. The opin­ions of cit­i­zens on eco­nomics and poli­cies must also be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.”

As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Dr Is­mail Sual­man

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