A government captive to social media

Salameh daraawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: Jordan News)
It is unfortunate that the government’s reactions and measures are based on social media trends and talk. It turns the government into these media’s captive rather than having it lead and steer public opinion. اضافة اعلان

A government, regardless of its authority or efficiency, cannot counter social media panic and negative activism. This is a wave that cannot be held back by succumbing to it, but rather through basic axes that cannot be surpassed at this stage. Those are:

First: Swift and honest governmental media rhetoric that precedes events, rather than occurring after them, in response to rumors and fake news, whereby the function of national media is reduced to refutation, as is the case today with most official behaviors.

Second: Open, direct communication channels with objective media and rational social media influencers. Take initiative by forming a new media lobby capable of analyzing and publishing information, and facts as they surface while reaching the greatest number of people before they circulate on social media without verification.

Third: Those operating in a righteous and sound manner have no reason to fear all forms of media. A strong official is one who keeps moving forward without looking back, and so it is unacceptable for the government to follow each and every social media issue to deny, confirm or clarify it. Information or events that are announced should in theory be followed immediately by sound and swift analysis, and explanation, which leaves no room for doubt and eliminates rumors within reason.

Fourth: The government could dispose of rumors and all the stress weighing officials down through direct and sustained communication with various forces in the community, particularly the private sector, political parties, and associations. Positive dialogue fosters means of communication and generates various ideas, solutions, and alternatives among policymakers, rather than accusing them of monopolizing the decision-making process.

These proposals require strong political administration, bold decision making, and a unified governmental front, in addition to consensus among ministers and officials of different ranks on the content of media messages. A clear objective should be set in place, carried out through executive policy. It is the public’s right to be privy to this mechanism and those meant to implement and monitor it.

Unfortunately, what is happening on social media and some traditional media is shameful. The ethical standard for rhetoric has fallen among many those platforms’ users, in turn pressuring officials to rush into the conversation with clarification, fearing the repercussions of allowing such rhetoric to spread.

Officials should take advantage of authentic information on social media, using it to set public opinion back on its proper course, if need be, or to achieve the government’s objectives.

But if officials remain captive to hearsay and misinformation, they will end up incapable of working as they should. What is needed now, is constructive thinking in dealing with traditional and social media and using them appropriately as most countries around the world do.

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