EDITORIAL: Controlling abuse of social media
TODAY’S?DIGITAL?TECHNOLOGY has changed our lifestyles in a most profound manner. From the mobile phone to social networking – Facebook to Twitter and all else in between – it is virtually ubiquitous and enormously influential. There are advantages and disadvantages, but there is no doubt that the use of this new technology will become even more widespread.
Although the now pervasive social networking platforms may allow individuals and organizations to improve communication and share information in a more efficient and timely manner, they are also open to widespread abuse. The classic case for national concern was the sex scene exposed by the last Saturday Sun. Unfortunately, there are others – also involving schoolchildren – which have gone viral.
There is no doubt that social media allow the general public to discuss ideas, ask questions and share links. They target an extremely wide audience and can direct anyone with an interest to specific websites or postings, for good or bad. They can be tools for enlightenment but can also be negative, impacting on personal reputations through offensive and objectionable material.
What may be the most worrisome aspect of online social networks is that they encourage people to share personal information. Even the most cautious and well meaning individuals can give away information they should not divulge.
But we cannot ban all social media activity. It simply will not work and any such effort will not yield any worthwhile results.
These tools are simply too important in today’s world. In our quest to prevent abuse of the social networking, it may prove impossible as a country to have a uniform, well defined and comprehensive policy for social media platforms.
Education about the appropriate use of social media and the exercise of social responsibility will be key to retaining control, whether for employees in the workplace, students in the classroom or any of us at home or leisure.
Responsible adults must be on top of the social media tools rather than always playing catch-up, because facility with these tools is essential in the 21st century. We need to recognize that consumerism and poverty, aided by poor adult supervision, are the sources of many problems we encounter.
So, as has always been the case, adults will have to stand for something good and decent and show their charges the right way.
We must all recognize that with social media we must think before we act, whether posting, messaging, tweeting or blogging. The delete button cannot retract what can lead to a haunting, lifelong experience. It is not the social media which make bad decisions, but inappropriate actions from the people who use, or rather abuse, them.