Responsible use of social media: a reminder for anonymous users

There is no doubt that the evolution of social media has really transformed our lives. It has never been easier for us to connect with our long-lost friends or meet our loved ones all from the comfort of our own home.

Today, we live in a world where Facebook alone has over 1.65 billion active users monthly.

This means that almost entire generations are growing up online interacting with friends and families on social media. It has become an important medium of interaction and communication for both casual users and businesses across the world.

With easy-to-use tools, simple designs, reliable connectivity and free access to great features, it is true that social media has now taken the world by storm. As a result, it has now become very important for us to learn how to use it responsibly.

It is quite sad that in the recent times, this great innovation is being increasingly misused by some people to spread hatred and create disharmony in society.

Facebook, in particular, has been infested with so many users with fake accounts who claim to exercise their right to freedom of expression without realizing that every right comes with responsibilities.

All of us have the right to the freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of

Bhutan, but that does not mean that we can go to any length defaming others on social media. After all, we should know that we will be held responsible for our own actions.

That is why, the Article on Fundamental Rights in our Constitution is immediately followed by the Article on Fundamental Duties, because each right comes with responsibilities.

If we just look at the discussions on social media especially in the Facebook group called ‘Bhutanese News and Forums’, you will realize that most of the allegations people share are intended to divide the common people.

It is very sad that some people even go to the extent of launching personal attacks in a bid to create frictions among the existing political parties. Of course, we have been empowered by the Constitution of our country to raise our voices in the public domain but those arguments should be in the larger interest of the nation and there is a better way of putting them up to the right audience.

What we should know at the end of the day is that social media has been created to facilitate healthy interactions among the common people and not to divide them.

One reason why social media users with fake accounts have the guts to openly post defamatory stories online is that they seem to feel safe under anonymity. What they do not seem to realize is that they can be easily tracked down through their IP Address, if necessary.

In a world of advanced technology, the online privacy can never be guaranteed. So it is important to think twice before we decide to post anything online.

What is more saddening is that some people seem to be using social media even to bully others.

Recently, a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Thimphu was found to be depressed after receiving death threats from an anonymous Facebook user. She was so scared that she had even stopped going to school.

The police finally tracked down the perpetrator who was her own schoolmate. For a small nation like ours, such incidents are very painful to digest. We can definitely prosper as a nation if every citizen uses social media responsibly to promote communal harmony and foster healthy interactions among the people in the society.

By Amrith Bdr Subba

The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education.

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