The Dremetse-Ngatshang constituency dialogue, initiated by Bhutan Broadcasting service (BBS), saw the candidates from the four political parties discuss on the need to counter fake news in the social media by bringing about a social media policy and taking other measures.
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) candidate said that defaming of a political party or a candidate to divide the voters or influence them is becoming rampant during electionS. Similarly, the other candidates said the people need to use the social media platform in a good way.
All the four candidates pledged to come up with stringent social media policy to counter the fake new posted by anonymous or fake accounts, especially in Bhutanese News and Forum on Facebook.
Anonymous and fake accounts
PDP candidate, Tobgay, said, “Social media has grown tremendously in the last few years, and especially Facebook and WeChat has grown much faster and captured many users in just a few years.”
He said people should be responsible and use the power of social media in a positive way. He suggested there should be more stringent policy for social media, and only then can the issue of fake accounts and fake news be resolved.
“Recently with election coming up, there are increasing numbers of anonymous and fake account created to defame a political party or a candidate because every party wants to win,” the PDP candidate said.
Unethical use of social media
Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party’s (BKP) candidate, Tshering Wangchen, said, “People have tremendously benefited from the social media. People can now find information on anything and be up to date about local and international news. However, the evolution of social media and technology has resulted in people misusing it.”
He said, “Today, social media platform, especially Facebook and WeChat, is used in a very unethical way and defamation, humiliation and vulgar language is seen as the most unethical practices on social media.”
About the usage of social media, he said, “People should know how to use the social media platform, if people use it in a good way, social media has so many benefits like, access to information, news and events, and if people use it unethically, social media is very dangerous as it can divide the people. People should also know that the news and information published or posted in social media is true or not.”
He said, “Introduction of social media policy and rules and regulations would help counter fake news on social media but I feel that we need to educate the people first. We should educate people on the positive and negative impact of social media.”
Need for social media policy
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa ‘s (DNT) candidate, Jigme Dorji, said, “Social media has benefited us tremendously, it has so many advantages but at the same time it has negative impacts too.”
He said. “Fake online news which looks exactly like the real one is making it difficult for readers to differentiate between the two. As a result, thousands of readers who are reading the news believe in false or fabricated news.”
“Social media policy is very important as there are increasing numbers of people using fake accounts to spread fake news, and in order to identify the people using fake accounts, we should work in collaboration with Facebook. Bhutan is a small country and even with limited budget, we should work with Facebook and come up with the regulation,” he said.
DNT candidate said, “If elected, we will initiate scheme to use applications like WeChat and Facebook for free”.
Defamatory and false news
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) candidate, Ugyen Wangdi, said, “With the expansion of social media, there are increasing number of fake news posted on social media resulting from poor regulation.”
He said, “If someone defame a person, according to the Social Media Rule and Regulation 2004, we can take the person to the court but the penalty is too less, so I think we should come up with strong and more stringent law.”
He said, “I think we should review the policy, and if possible, reintroduce the rule on social media to stop people from spreading the fake news when we are at the early stage.”