Accra, Nov. 16, GNA- The National Media Commission (NMC) in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has held a public forum on the free and responsible use of the social media to help protect the rights to free expression and information sharing.
The aim of the forum was to gather information and recommendations from speakers and participants into a communiqué that would guide the granting of access to social media directly and indirectly during the General Election on December 7.
Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, the Chairman of the National Media Commission, addressing the forum, said their purpose was also to ensure that use of social media did not result in any disaster during the period.
He, therefore, urged those who shared information on social media to first verify that their sources were credible before circulation.
“The media and citizens should not share information they cannot verify because the information every individual shares should always be the truth, accurate and credible for peace to be maintained,” he said.
Nana Gyan-Apenteng said that was why forum was being held timeously to set the standards for engagement, and emphasised the need to set on the path of finding frameworks for policies, especially during this election.
During a panel discussion, Ms Kinna Kimani of Blogging Ghana said she was against a ban on social media during the general election because social media allowed for transparency and created a great opportunity for dialogue.
She said people over-vilified the use of social media, but it should rather be encouraged to promote enlightenment on social and political issues for nation building.
Mr Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa, said he agreed with that position, but explained that the problems of social media should be blamed on the deviant users but not the medium.
Therefore, he said, the positive sides of social media needed to be highlighted more than the isolated cases of abuse because it had become a platform for many to engage with family, friends, business associates, among others.
Mr Braimah said in dealing with the challenges of social media, the focus should be to address the character of people to conform to societal ethics.
Mr Bernard Avle, also a panellist, and a host of Citi FM’s Morning Show, however, noted that social media had changed the traditional way of the media and created a more cynical political atmosphere.
The best way to protect the rights to the social media, he said, was to ensure that rules were made and reviewed with the changing times, which were running very fast. “We cannot afford to abandon the social media for one day.”
Users of social media must, therefore, recognise their responsibilities and ensure that their engagements were consistent with the public expectation of decency, morality and the respect for public order.
The panellists unanimously, therefore, called on the appropriate institutions and regulators of social media to put in place the appropriate framework to ensure that the platforms were used to exchange ideas that would facilitate the nation.
The security agencies, they said, must position themselves to monitor threats and track the offenders to prevent any incidents, explaining that abuse of social media was the main source of Kenya’s conflict in 2007.
They reiterated the need for users to verify every information they received before they shared it to ensure that peace was maintained.