Prudent Use Of Social Media Platform
Hira Bahadur Thapa
With the fast advancement of information technology people around the globe are getting revolutionised. They are using the newer means of communications to express themselves connecting to each other, irrespective of their location, nationality and religion more closely than ever. Especially after 2006 an excessive use of social media platform like Facebook, Face Time, Skype, Twitter, Instagram etc. has been more noticeable.
Progress achieved in the communications field has indeed been a boon to billions of people living in the world because of easy access to such means of media with lowered costs. When the Internet services have become more accessible, the people have been reaping advantage by using them for the enhancement of their life having to spend nothing extra. For example if I am paying 1017 NPR say for one month of unlimited Internet services to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, then I wouldn’t be required to pay even a single additional rupee for whatever number of hours I may use social media means within that month. Therefore, viewed from this perspective my use of any aforementioned social media platform is completely free, which is a great service and of course the advantages from this are conditional on my prudent use of the media.
When I say prudent use of social media as it lures us to use more frequently considering the fact that no additional financial resource is invested, my point is that we should think very carefully about the likely implications of our speech whether verbal or written while communicating with others. The bitter truth is that once thought is expressed either in written form or vocally through voice records, the communication gets archived in some websites, over which the users exercise no control whatsoever.
This point of unknowingly archiving the words used while texting or writing comments on somebody’s Facebook posts, very common among the teenagers, though frequently done by even adult audience of Facebook, is the key to understand the ramifications of social media. Understandably, there are both positive and negative aspects of anything and information technology is no exception either.
The purpose of this piece is to dwell on both advantages and disadvantages related to the use of social media, which is widely used these days rather paying no or little attention to the harm it may cause if there is the lack of caution in our expression either through words or by posting the pictures, which sometimes transcend the boundaries of professional norms. When I mention professional ethics, I mean someone’s duties to be sensitive enough to one's profession while posting photos, describing them and making replies to comments, if any.
Undoubtedly, the use of social media especially Facebook has enabled us to get quickly connected to our friends or relatives, whom we have not been able to talk, let alone meet physically for decades due to various regions. The posting of pictures makes the connection more impressive and sometimes emotional. Even people living in remote villages of Nepal are in a position to see their relatives’ latest photos, who are living thousands of miles away and converse with them instantly, provided the Internet services are good. More interestingly, the use of an app known as Facebook Messenger allows the users to make free calls form any part of the globe to another. In my opinion this facility is the most attractive to our fellow citizens, whose children are residing far off places whether as students or workers and whom they hardly can meet by visiting the countries they are living.
This scribe, although a retiree from Nepal government services, has been less accustomed to the use of latest information technology, now feels that there are so many opportunities provided by the availability of Internet services and one can spend one’s post – retirement life more productively even by staying home. Indeed being in advanced country is itself a boon as one can have smooth access to Internet and thus reap advantages not only from social media platform for easy communications but also for enhancing one’s academic capabilities by having access to the resources of Public Library. It all depends on how we make use of the available opportunities.
The ground reality in a developing country like ours is that a large majority of those who have an access to Internet are not fully aware of the vast opportunities provided by innovation in information technology. They seem to limit the advantages of Internet to the use of social media platform and in particular, Facebook. Well through Facebook too one can learn a lot from the useful posts, which have been shared but one cannot necessarily benefit unless one is wise to choose useful information based on credible source.
One may easily fall prey to fake news as was evidenced even in an advanced society like the US, where media has exposed the negative impact of such activity in the latest presidential election. With the increasing possibilities of such fake news circulation impacting negatively on societies, countries like Singapore and Germany have started taking remedial measures to prevent the use of Facebook from carrying incendiary news or any piece of information. Facebook company may be held accountable to an action if that is related to the use of fake news that is damaging to the community.
In this regard Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister in his piece “Russia’s Hybrid War Against the West” (Project-Syndicate) has said, some German lawmakers have suggested that legislation may be needed to clean social-media platforms”.
The carelessness displayed by Facebook users, in the recent times was highlighted by an agency of the Nepal government prompting it to issue directives to apply caution in posting disgraceful pictures after it was revealed that some diplomats assigned to Nepal’s foreign missions were misusing the social media platform in disregard for their professional ethics.
More importantly, the youngsters are using Facebook so enthusiastically that they seem to spend their precious time on posting their pictures and making comments on others’ posts. In posting pictures many seem to be oblivious of the fact that some of their sensitive private information has been made public, which may likely be misused as cyber crime has become more rampant as evidenced by legal measures adopted in various countries.
Therefore, any technological innovation has both merits and demerits and social media, a consequence of advancement in information communications, has served billions by facilitating conversation among them but simultaneously it has made them vulnerable to cyber crime as well unless enough caution is applied by Facebook audience. Only prudent use of social media platform can protect us from evils of cyber crime.