The National Media Commission (NMC) yesterday organised a public forum to deliberate on free and responsible use of social media, especially during the general elections which is a few weeks away.
It was sponsored by the Canadian High Commission and supported by the British and Australian high commissions and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the United States Embassy, and the United Nations Development Fund.
Mr. Kwesi Gyan-Appenteng, chairman of the NMC, in a welcome address, said the communiqué would be fine tuned and there after, presented to stakeholders such as media regulators, security institutions and telecommunication industry players to serve as guidelines especially during the elections.
He said it had become imperative to initiate such a move due to the apprehension of the Ghana Police Service over the impact of social media on Ghana’s electioneering campaign, noting that “no one is sure how the social media platform would affect the elections”.
Mr. Gyan-Appenteng said because social media was an unmediated platform, it had the tendency to churn out variety of unsubstantiated information which could not augur well for social cohesion.
He, however, said despite that limitation, blacking out the platform would not be the necessary antidote to the menace, emphasising that there was the need to create a policy framework to serve as guide to its usage.
Mr. Dominic Sam, UNDP Country Director said social media was not all together a bad media platform since it allowed people to communicate their messages in a targeted manner and also receive feedback.
“Moreover, it allows citizens, groups and institutions involved in social mobilisation to raise their own issues and bring them to the attention of political parties and government,” he said and stated that the responsible exercise of the fundamental freedoms to access and publish information without censorship or restriction, should be cherished and protected.
He however stressed the need for people to avoid posting or commenting on information conveying falsehood, particularly those relating to election results or those which sought to create disharmony or inflamed passion.
Mr. George Sarpong, Executive Secretary of the NMC, was the moderator for a panel discussion on the topic “Social Media and Peace Building; Social Media and Traditional Media “which helped to shape the draft communiqué.
Mr. Bernard Avle of Citi FM, Kinna Kimani, Blogging Ghana, and Sulemana Braimah, Executive Director of Media Foundation for West Africa, were the panel members.
By Lawrence Markwei