Everyday I put up a posting on my Facebook Page, which has over four million followers. I and my followers engage in conversations on topics of interest, and most of them do it in a civil manner. If there’s any disagreements, they are over issues, not over personalities. There’s hardly, if any, name-calling.
But elsewhere, social media has turned into an ugly platform where disagreements and differences are amplified and people are becoming more divided than ever. This is made worse by the anonymity which social media like Facebook and Twitter afforded. Name-calling, peppered with racist and bigotry comments have become more prevalent.
This is the antithesis of what social media were made for. They are supposed to be a platform to bridge the gap between people and allow friends and families to easily keep in touch with each other. Today, the reverse is true.
To mitigate, social media companies are putting measures to curb abuses. Facebook recently announced that it is tightening its rules on political advertisements in Singapore, in the run-up to the republic’s upcoming election. Earlier, Instagram in a pilot project, had hidden the “likes” of postings from accounts which originated from selected countries. This is to allow users to focus on the photos, not the reaction.
While these measures can help to negate some of the drawbacks of social media, at the end of the day, users themselves need to exercise restrain and caution. They should refrain from sharing news from unverified sources and keep their emotions in check, as they would during face-to-face encounters. Otherwise, social media will be be reduced to a toxic platform that does more harm than good.