The Social Media Crisis

When the social media first made its presence felt in Bhutan around a decade ago it was primarily seen as a force for good.

The power of the press was now in the hands of every citizen, and what could possibly go wrong?

However, around a decade later social media in Bhutan is causing as many problems as it is offering solutions. Some would argue that it is creating far more problems.

The biggest problem is social media addiction as the young and old now are glued to their phones, and can easily spend hours on it every day cut off from those around them.

This is already having an impact on relationships, family time and our society as a whole.

Another major and rapidly growing problem is misinformation and fake news. Either out of malice, ignorance or for fun there is now a cottage industry of fake news and post generators in Bhutan.

Some have learnt how to weaponize social media to take down people they do not like by spreading false or exaggerated misinformation.  It does not help that a lot of social media users in Bhutan are not media or social media literate and accept many things at face value.

The platform is now increasingly being used for financial scams in Bhutan with ordinary Bhutanese being fooled by even international operators.

Political polarization was never a problem in Bhutan, but social media by its very nature is enhancing polarization. It is also driving up hate speech and widening divisions in our country

There are many other issues with social media, and it is high time that we formulate an all of society approach to deal with the issues above.

There is an urgent need for social media literacy at the grass root level and this cannot be done with a few workshops, but there must be a sustained and far reaching campaign to educate people. We also need to spend less time on the platform and more in real life.

More must also be done to tackle the hate speech and fake new on the platform by various stakeholders coming together.

Social media is not a safe space.
Tarana Burke

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