By Sarath Wijesinghe (Daily Mirror)
Social media has been a medium of communication on computer mediated technology created to sharing information with individuals, clusters, and social groups, cheap, accessible and fast, until the ground breaking innovative introduction of Face Book by Mark Zuckerberg, a student of Israeli origin at Harvard, innovated for the students of the Harvard University that spread like wild fire all over the world due to innovations of the product.
Facebook (Fb), is used by 3 billion people worldwide spread to 40% of the world population and 2 billion active monthly users. Before the introduction of Fb the printed, electronics, email, telex and such traditional methods were adopted locally and internationally with 100,000,000, registered users worldwide.
Fb is user-friendly, quick and attractive and it spread rapidly worldwide within weeks and months of introduction, with unprecedented profits and reputation to the innovators who became multi-billionnaires in a short span. Fb is a useful double edged sword with more benefits to the society than detrimental effects due to misuse and exploitation of the freedom to access the world in seconds with a click of a button.
The Fb supported social media in Sri Lanka is a popular and people friendly online web service which is fast growing and useful social media with many other emerging sites.
Social Media has become a powerful tool and unstoppable that have changed and revolutionized the life of the citizen looking for quick results and comforts with the least effort. It is a strong and powerful mode of communication on connectivity, used in business, education, personal and public affairs administration with difficult areas due to cyber hacking, addiction, , security, threats, hate speeches, crime, defamation which are controlled by media rules discipline and laws of the respective countries.
There is adequate legislation in Sri Lanka in civil and criminal law and regulations which unfortunately are not in practice. Inactivity of the governance as in the “Digana” incident where proper steps if taken promptly the disaster that occurred would have been avoided.
Social media in Sri Lanka has become a powerful tool in private and public life with the participation of the younger generation with large penetration of mobile phones replacing traditional land telephone lines exceeding the population due to trade war among the mobile phone companies offering easy payment schemes and cheap instruments available at every corner with no restrictions.
Facebook is used by 6.5 million but the impact is huge with 30% internet users and over 23 million mobile phones in the hands of the citizen, giving priority to the mobile phone as a part of the household expense.
Sri Lanka is on the door step of the digital world invading fast with the introduction of international business portals and many online giants using the social media and modern developments on banking easy money transferring platforms, with modern world trends of 40% global Facebook users, when even China has one billion accounts worldwide with the world’s largest online platform, which is owned by a Chinese company patronized by thousands of Sri Lankans.
Gloomy side of the Story too
Social Media is worldwide and the easy way in the digital age. If the system is misused by the users, in the day-to-day life, business, professional engagements, are inevitable in the midst of billions of transactions unless a proper security system is enforced. Worldwide news is in the public domain, it shows adequate protection and punishments are enforced in other parts of the world.
Many incidents have been reported previously until “Digana” issue came to light alleging a section of Fb users misusing the product to incite hatred and spread violence through the media. It is unfair to state the Fb is solely responsible for the escalation of violence, but it has ignited and spread the tragedy through the members of Fb misusing the system which has not been monitored properly by the government despite the legal and other mechanisms in the system under the direct law and order.
Social Media Ombudsman
There is a better mode of dispute resolution which is a less complicated procedure in a friendly atmosphere which is successfully applied worldwide including Sri Lanka. Today Fb has become an irreversible, unstoppable, innocent “Dragon” capable of being tamed to suit Sri Lanka, for our development and prosperity, if handled properly by professionals and experts avoiding the involvement of politicians who are responsible for the ruination and present sorry state of the country. The implementation of the Ombudsman scheme will be successful in Sri Lanka as educated professionals with sufficient teeth to deal with certain amount of powers by appointing educated and balanced personalities for the job.
Hate speeches and exchange of images and videos may have other underlying reasons and it is a good idea for the sociologist to find the root cause of its sudden eruption whether it is the resentment and disappointment of the citizen using this media to express their views. The cheapest way to express the opinion has come down to Fb today and it has to be carefully controlled and moderated by an Ombudsman appointed under the Constitutional Council – not by politicians!