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Editorial: Social media challenges

With increase in use of smart phones and expansion of internet services, social media has become popular source of information though biased. Time killers and activities see social media sites such as Facebook as main source of receiving feedback and disseminating information to alter public opinions in their favor. Most of the government officials and lawmakers have created accounts and pages on Facebook. They feel easy to communicate with public through Facebook rather than meeting them in person. May be they are doing so because of the security reasons because an officials can post pictures or comments and interact without leaving his chair. Another advantage that the authorities see in social media use is that they could monitor public behavior.

Officials who are tired of the cold-shoulder response of the country’s leaders see social media as best way to convey public grievances and take up issues of national interests. Why they resort to use of Facebook to render resignation or criticize the leader who appointed them or extended their tenure is a question begging answer. Probably, the leaders can also be found available on social media sites all the time. Or perhaps the complicated protocols had made their access to the Presidential Palace limited. However, it is earning a bad reputation for the current government. Open communication unveils flawed policies of the government and misadministration. It also exposes lack of coordination between the center and provinces and different organizations.

It may be seen as a positive aspect of social media. But, social media is becoming a challenge rather than a solution. Social media experts sitting outside of Afghanistan are questioning our moral values and manners. Hundreds of Facebook users are involved in propaganda which is damaging the national interest. Different groups and pages had been created which criticize certain ethnic groups. Besides, giving an opportunity to the anti-Afghanistan elements to exploit our weaknesses, it also pounds the national unity. The abusive language is creating problems for lawmakers, activities, artists, journalists, and religious scholars.

That’s why the social media has failed to become a source of credible information for mainstream media. In developed countries or third world countries where ethics are followed and appropriate words are used in criticism, social media is feeding major newspapers and news channels there. Use of civilized language, logic and good arguments had given birth to the concept of digital newsroom. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan journalism is revolving around traditionalism because social media has become a challenge and a tool of propaganda.

The only way to make social media an effective tool for unbiased reporting and sharing of credible information is to follow ethics. The government cannot help in this regard. It is up to the users. Character assassination is a serious crime. The users shall promote healthy criticism backed by logic and solid arguments.

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