Awareness among people is utmost necessary to prevent misuse of social media as that may cause harm to the nation as well as other individuals, speakers told a dialogue on September 17.
It is important to be vigilant and take proportional legal actions against spreading of fake news and encouraging extremism in social media, they said, noting that the social media plays a significant role in people’s lives.
The speakers, comprising people from different political parties, academia, Islamic scholars, government and NGO officials, diplomats, civil society and mainstream and madrasa students, also said that this is a global problem and it is not possible for the government on its own to tackle it without cooperation from the people.
In association with the High Commission of Canada, Move Foundation organised the dialogue titled ‘Extremist & Fake Contents in Social Media: Challenges & Way Forward’ at a hotel in the capital.
Ruling Awami League lawmaker and joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif attended the event as chief guest while Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit Prefontaine was present as special guest. Former chief information commissioner Dr Golam Rahman spoke as the guest of honour.
Move Foundation founder and President Saiful Haque delivered the welcome address at the programme moderated by foundation’s honorary chair Dr Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury.
Brigadier General Ziaul Ahsan, director of the National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre, presented the keynote paper.
AL leader Hanif touched upon different negative aspects of social media and called for using this responsibly.
Spreading of fake news in Facebook is done on purpose and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is responsible for this, he said, adding that Jamaat has created ‘Islamic terrorists’ in Bangladesh and made the religion of Islam questionable through using fake news.
Qawmi Madrasa students are not involved with militancy, Hanif added. Nothing can be done against the country in the name of freedom of speech, the ruling party leader said stressing the need for responsible use of social media out of responsibility towards the nation.
The AL leader defended the detention of renowned photographer Shahidul Alam, saying that his actions were aimed at creating instability and that he has been arrested to ensure the rule of law.
The Canadian high commissioner said the problem related to extremism and fake contents in social media is a global one and cooperation between countries is necessary.
Emphasising on ensuring freedom of expression and human rights of the accused of engaging in harmful activities in social media, he said that his country is happy to cooperate with Bangladesh in terms of capacity building of those who deal with the harmful aspects.
Former chief information commissioner Dr Rahman said that any law to deal with fake news will have to be good to ensure the rule of law.
He also hinted that the lack of credibility of the mainstream media is a key reason behind attention and credibility gained by social media.
In his keynote speech, Brigadier Ahsan said that social media is playing a significant role in the society and that he is not in favour of closing it.
Rather, he voiced his opinion to fight against the fake contents with the help of the people.