‘Social Media allows actualization of certain human rights’

-says Country Director of BBC Media Action

May 22, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Country director of BBC Media Action has stated that the use of social media allows for the actualization of certain fundamental human rights, especially the right to access information.

George Ferguson was speaking on Friday (May 19) at a training organized by his organization in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) for Editors and Station Managers on the use of social media.

The training in the SLAJ conference room provided senior journalists from across the country, an insight with regards the use of social media and how they could apply the Code of Practice of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and editorial values to social media content.

According to Mr. Ferguson, social media is a new technology that is very powerful and can be used in a positive and negative ways by thousands of users.

While stressing the importance of learning about the technology, especially the social media use and understanding how it works, he noted that the training was part of the process of having people to know the issues associated with  social media.

“Social media allows for the actualization of certain fundamental human rights. It is a platform where people express their opinions. As journalists, we need to look at these issues seriously and it is important to engage the government on their concerns about the use of social media. Sierra Leone has a good reputation of certain democratic values. There are opportunities that social media offers,” he stated.

Mr. Ferguson opined that it was obvious that  government was concerned  with the use of  social medi,noting that  any government across the world should have concerns, because social media sometimes has issues that have to do with hate speech and offensive comments.

Also speaking was the President of SLAJ, Kelvin Lewis, who welcomed the training, saying that it was a way of starting the conversion as to why social media should not be banned even though there are issues that needed to be addressed.

He said SLAJ has a responsibility of protecting and promoting free speech, hence the training was timely to educate journalists about the do’s and don’ts of using social media.

“This is a way of starting the conversion about social media. We know from the government side they are concern about national security. Social media is new and there are lots of issues that needed to be addressed,” he said.

According to him, he has had course to go to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters on several occasions, trying to secure the release of journalists, who were detained for what they post on Whatsapp and other  social media.