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Preventing Canards on Social Media Networks
People

Preventing Canards on Social Media Networks

The free nature of cyberspace provides a certain level of comfort for online users as they can say whatever they want without being known or identified by name. In virtual space, people freely express their opinions which they may not dare to in the real world.
Social media platforms do play an influential role on what are known as “networked young citizens.”
Not all emerging social media are harmful and many use cyberspace for social good, sharing positive messages or to promote good deeds like charity campaigns.
However, there are cyber media campaigns that have a malicious intent causing negative impact on the society. The underlying reasons for confrontational campaigns should be examined and addressed for the greater social good.
One of the main reasons for the emergence of harmful rumors and campaigns is lack of quality leisure-time activities for the youth and their civic engagement.
Youth leisure time should be organized through various cultural and community programs. Youth energy should be channelized in useful functions rather than used for spreading canards. It takes only a few minutes for rumors and fake news to start circulating and make headlines, causing confusion in a large group of people.
Since there is no direct control to block dissemination of false information, the best solution would be to redirect the energy of youth on healthy online activities.
“Efforts should be focused on management of cyber campaigns, not their elimination, says Dr. Farid Barati Saddeh, psychologist, social pathologist and faculty member of Allameh Tabatabaee University.
To eradicate weeds they should be pulled out from the roots; cutting them from stems won’t fix the problem.
The underlying reasons that fuel false information should be assessed and interpreted carefully. “We should understand why they occur and what the intention is,” he said.
 Lacking Accountability
The main reason for emergence of hate campaigns in social media networks is the lack of healthy programs for the youth.
There are many other reasons as well, including absence of official accountability to people’s main concerns. Officials should answer people’s questions on various issues by providing them adequate information. As administrations move towards e-governance this is not a difficult task.
People have right to information about issues concerning their interests. Otherwise rumors will spawn like mushrooms.
Recently, the rumor mill had it that poultry was still infected due to avian influenza making people boycott chicken and poultry products.
In June, several cases of the disease were reported in Mazandaran and Tehran provinces and the Iran Veterinary Organization (IVO) took preventive measures to fight its spread. Although the country is now clear of the disease, the silence of the IVO and lack of satisfactory official explanation on the health status of national poultry products, have fueled uncertainties.
Some officials believe that when there is no problem “there is no need for any additional explanation.” This is not the right attitude.
Conformity or change in belief or behavior as a result of group or peer pressure, mostly occurs when an individual doesn’t have adequate information about an issue; therefore raising people’s awareness about concerns affecting their lives can help stop the spread of harmful rumors. In order to dispel public fears and concerns, the authorities should be more forthcoming by making use of the mass media.

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