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Social Media Within Our Society

Social Media Within Our Society

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As a peacebuilder, what I am sharing here are my own views only and is the way I see social media in our context. Some of this reflects discussions from among my peers and others who have the same passion as a peacebuilder.

In the Solomon Islands, social media has played a role that can help advocate for our peacebuilding work, but it also has a destabilizing effect. People no longer trust social media because it has been used to disseminate unverified second-hand information, including to those for whom we are trying to advocate our cause about which we are so passionate.

There is a proliferation of hate speech or misinformation online. Social media is often used to mislead the general population, making social media unsafe and an unreliable source of information. We must constantly remind ourselves that there are people who can hack into anyone’s account anytime. Social media also promotes the culture of cyberbullying and can potentially cause social unrest and disturbance in society.

To ensure a safer way of promoting our peacebuilding advocacies, the most sensible thing for us to do is use the existing traditional media that has been around long before the inception of social media. In this way, information can be clearer and more accurate for the audience that we are trying to reach.

Unfortunately, there are opportunists within every organization, and this is a bad omen. Being peacebuilders, we must be passionate about what we do regardless of our differences.

As is often expressed, the inception of social media is both a blessing and a curse for this era. Aside from social media misinforming the public, crucial and confidential information can be leaked, which is a risk to any organization and society. In this way, social media platforms can steal the rights of individuals because of unnecessary and inaccurate sentiments, which in turn can promote injustice.

We, Solomon Islanders, are trying to uphold our local beliefs and traditions. In this respect, social media sometimes has a negative impact on our culture and cultural norms as it brings in the influence of foreign cultures that can disharmonize our communal society, which has been part of our culture since time immemorial.

The aftermath of the unrest/riot in the Solomon Islands resulted in few users posting sensitive comments on social media platforms. These comments create suspicion among and between different ethnic groups in the Solomon Islands. There were certain posts that went viral on social media targeting certain provinces and its people during the current situation. This has been disturbing and not helpful in creating peace.

My hope is that everyone recognizes their responsibility to use social media in a responsible manner and in a way that shows respect for one another.

Chris Solomon Alu is currently working with the Ministry of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs as Community Governance Officer and is stationed at the Western Province capital in Gizo in the Solomon Islands. He attended MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in 2019.

You may find updated information on the situation in Solomon Islands at these news sites:

Photo: Local women send a message to other Solomon Islanders about violence against women during a march marking White Ribbon Day 2009. Photo courtesy of Tom Perry; Solomon Island Case Study: evaluation of Australian Law and Justice Assistance, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Canberra, December 2012, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/) license, https://www.dfat.gov.au/sites/default/files/lawjustice-solomon-islands-case-study.pdf

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