Bahrain may act against social media abuse
Manama, August 1, 2012
The initiative comes as a new code of honour for social media users is set to be launched by the Bahrain Bloc, which is encouraging people to voluntarily sign the document in hopes of highlighting those who abuse social media to divide the society.
The drive, which will be promoted on Facebook and Twitter, will feature a set of guidelines, but campaigners say it would not regulate or impose restrictions on social media and only aims to monitor its content.
They also said legal action could be taken, if necessary, against identified minority groups that spread hatred among Bahrainis.
It is one of several social reconciliation projects aimed at strengthening national unity and follows the launch of a Code of Honour for clerics to preach the message of love and forgiveness.
"This is our second initiative targeting social media users after we launched a similar document for clerics last month, where they pledged to work for national unity," said bloc head MP Ahmed Al Sa'ati.
"We have consulted the Social Media Club Bahrain and the Bahrain Internet Society while preparing these guidelines. Our aim is to ensure that thousands of Facebook and Twitter users do not incite violence online or use sectarian terms that can cause harm to the social fabric."
Al Sa'ati said Facebook and Twitter accounts will be created through which users can sign the code and pledge to follow its set of rules.
"We would like to make it clear that we respect criticism and if people have something to say to the government they can as the Bahrain constitution guarantees freedom of expression," he stressed.
"This is in no way regulating or putting restrictions on social media, but only monitoring the content to identify minority groups that spread hatred."
He said the bloc would compile a list of social media users and Blackberry groups, who violate the law, which will be presented to the authorities.
"In addition social media users will be advised to ignore or boycott such accounts," he explained.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report stated it was "aware" of the impact the use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter has had on some major social and political events in the contemporary world.
"The commission found numerous examples of exaggeration and misinformation, some highly inflammatory, that were disseminated through social media," it said.
According to the latest figures by the Social Media Club Bahrain there are more than 340,000 active Facebook users and more than 60,000 people on Twitter in Bahrain. – TradeArabia News Service