Thursday 21 September 2023 - 10:08:39 pm

Social Media forcing people to change: Singaporean academic

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By Hatem Hussein-Khoder Nashar

ABU DHABI, 16th November, 2022 (WAM) -- The battle against misinformation features high in the panel discussions of the ongoing Global Media Congress, with panellists emphasising on the central importance of providing credible information for any media outlet to survive in a multi-faceted, rapidly changing world.

During an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), on the sidelines of the second day of the Global Media Congress, Carl Skadian, Senior Associate Director-Singaporean Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore, said, “I don’t think it’s technology that is driving a significant change in the media industry, but rather credibility. Many media outlets just worry too much about technology. Technology is there, and we must use it, but at the end of the day, it’s just another delivery vehicle right. It’s the mission to provide credible information. All the technology in the world is not going to help you if the people don’t think you’re credible so that it’s most important.”

The academic cited in this regard a law introduced by the Singaporean government to combat misinformation across social media platforms despite international criticism. “You know the international reaction is not what really matters. What matters is that you know we’re responsible to our citizens, so this is a law that is aimed at keeping harmful effects away from Singaporeans; keeping them safe from misinformation which can cause a lot of damage to society. So, this is a decision that we are taking in our own interests and I think that it if it benefits Singapore and Singaporeans, then it should not be very controversial.”

Skadian stressed that spreading fake information is not freedom of expression. “I think some people do believe that you can say whatever you want, but frankly, that has not been my view at all, and I don’t think it’s the view of our leaders in Singapore, because we saw during the COVID-19 epidemic that fake information can cause a lot of damage. Fake news about vaccines in particular could have caused a lot of damage, but credible media should be able to battle that,” he explained.

The academic doubled down on the importance of having a credible brand to battle fake news. “The media has a great role to play to combat fake news. I think reputation is the most important. If you’re a reputable brand, people will naturally view you as a credible source of information, but if you’re biased, then they go and get the information from social media, including WhatsApp chat groups and things of that sort, so your credibility is the most precious thing that you have, and once you lose that, you can never get it back.”

He highlighted the importance of gatherings like the Global Media Congress to address the public in the right way. “Events such as the Global Media Congress are important to help bring people together and provide greater understanding of how media works towards solving the challenges that we are facing,” he said in conclusion.

Muhammad Aamir / Hatem Mohamed