Daily Graphic Editorials
Social media regulatory standards - Need of the times
Last month, the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), George Sarpong, advocated a regulatory framework to sanitise the social media space.
To him, that was important to end misinformation and the attendant negative impact on the country’s peace and democracy.
He made the advocacy at a public forum on “Misinformation, peace and democratic consolidation in Ghana” and called on civil society organisations to lead action towards the regulatory framework for standards in social media use.
The call by the NMC is timely. For the past three decades or so, Africa and particularly Ghana have been experiencing phenomenal activities on social media platforms.
An abridged report (2020) of the National Communications Authority (NCA)/Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) titled: Household Survey on ICT, showed that almost all Ghanaians exclusively owned a mobile telephony of sorts.
Available data indicate that as of January 2021, the number of mobile connections in the country was about 41.69 million, and that is still growing.
That situation, inherently, has its issues the challenges of misinformation, disinformation, fake news and all the untowardness that the virtual space can provide.
Social media’s enormous impact is unmistakable. Facebook sees approximately 300 million new photos uploaded daily, while 6,000 Tweets are sent every second.
The most popular YouTube channels receive over 14 billion views weekly, while the messaging app Telegram boasts over 500 million users.
Social media platforms connect people across societies, facilitating information sharing in ways unimaginable only two decades ago.
The manipulation of social media platforms has also spread widely, and such platforms have been used to promote instability, spread political conflict and call for violence.
Taking advantage of the dense, extensive social interconnections across social media platforms, actors can launch numerous falsehoods, accusations and conspiracies and observe which narratives take hold.
As a growing part of contemporary asymmetric conflict, malicious actors whether foreign or domestic state actors, parastatal groups or non-state actors determine when, where and how often to attack.
Defenders, which include targeted governments, civil society organisations, tech corporations, media outlets and others, must prioritise where to focus and how to respond.
The nature of this asymmetry means that defenders find themselves in a reactive crouch.
The quantity, speed and increasing sophistication of misinformation pose profound challenges for instability and atrocity prevention stakeholders.
In Ghana, we have had our fair share of social media excesses and the potential of social upheaval.
It is, therefore, imperative for all to pick the gauntlet to lead a discussion on social media regulatory standards for Ghana’s cohesion.
We dare not leave the space unstandardised and unregulated; it will be to our detriment.
In picking the charge, the Daily Graphic reminds all Ghanaians that our social media space has merged seamlessly with traditional media and the straddle between both spaces makes it imperative to develop regulatory standards across the board.
The call is on regulators and other agencies who set policy to lead the charge in this effort.
Indeed, it will not be worth their while and profits if the country disintegrates as a result of fake news that goes viral.
The Daily Graphic is watching the space and also lending its support in this advocacy for standards for social media use.
It is our experience now and standards need to be applied for its proper use and development.