Moderating social media platforms is necessary

By : Talal Al Harbi

Today, the social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have emerged as the most popular and powerful source of communication because they are quick in reporting of events. But like any other activity, it has shortcomings that we should act to correct.

The problem with this sort of popular mode of communication is that it drifts emotionally behind the event without taking into consideration repercussions of such a practice. This could start with a simple thing like a joke or an anecdote and then go into a dark tunnel where some people harm the Kingdom’s image without being aware of the damage they have caused by publishing a news item or how they have presented it to the whole word.

Lately, a Dutch politician foolishly committed an ugly crime against Islam by mutilating the Saudi flag and ridiculing inscriptions on it. This crime has attracted enough attention and drew popular angry reaction. However, I believe that time and effort invested in responding to this incident could have been more fruitful had those efforts been pooled to promote a national cause. Had this time and effort been invested in defending the country’s interests and its values, we could have achieved better gains in fighting crimes and bad habits. Instead of publishing photos of a crime that has already taken place, let us make efforts to prevent another crime.

Certainly, there is enough reason for responding to such news, but when everybody marches in the same direction and things begin to go out of control and off the logical course, then we should realize we need to change our course.

It is no secret that those wishing us evil are many, but what is more serious is that they are well-organized and that there are others supporting them, taking advantage of each letter or tweet published by any Saudi to feed the hostile propaganda. In fact we gave our enemies enough ammunition to fire against us.

When you write tweets relating to our society or country, you become subject to accountability. Nobody can say “this is my personal opinion,” because it is not when it is bound to harm the homeland. So, let us work to form a Twitter board of wise men to be in charge of reporting any event in a proper way and then to educate people so that negative tweets and messages are checked before they can do harm.

A Twitter board of wise men or Twitter Council of Elders is not just a reaction or voluntary work. It should be an organized target-oriented operation with a well-planned time table. All members and accounts will be registered and documented and everyone will abide by the rules and code of ethics.

Of course, and as expected, number of supporters of this proposed council will be very large, especially when we know that it would be in the interest of the public and private sector to see this council succeed in achieving its goals and eventually this success will be for the benefit of the society in the form of peace, security and stability.

Implementing this idea is very simple. It requires no more than holding of a conference of Saudi Twitter users to announce the formation of this council and I am sure that the idea will gain momentum and will eventually lead to the formation of similar councils at the Gulf and Arab levels, and the world level as well, because the people who aspire for peace and security will try to copy the Saudi example.

In Saudi Arabia, we have a very fertile environment for the success of any unconventional idea, especially when it comes to the determinants of societal conditions.

Here everyone wants happiness, security and safety, but the problem is in what we call the silent majority. Hopefully, the proposed Twitter council of elders will activate the role of this silent majority. Saudis are capable of achieving anything, but it is important to take the first step.





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