'Sad if no ethics in social media'

NST, February 28, 2013

HAZARDS: Beware of widespread online rumours or being exposed to business fraud, says PM KUALA LUMPUR: ETHICAL usage of social media as a form of communication enhances its reach and influence in Malaysia, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. He called on Malaysians to take a mature and responsible attitude when dealing with this new media environment.

"I think the ethics of it (social media usage) and the responsibi-lity that comes with it, is especially important. "It will be a sad thing if there are no ethics at all in the social media context," he said in his speech at the Malaysia Social Media Week event organised by the Social Media Chambers Malaysia hereyesterday.

Najib's speech reflected the increasing usage of social media in the country. He told his diverse members of the audience, who ranged from online entrepreneurs to foreign experts, that a recent study revealed Malaysia and Brazil had the highest Twitter usage in the world. "The report by the Oxford Internet Institute, says 'Malaysia stands out as a forward looking country'." Najib also warned of other hazards of Malaysia becoming an increasingly social media-savvy nation as it meant facing the risk of reading widespread online rumours and being exposed to online business fraud.

"When author Mark Twain famously said 'a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes', no one had dreamed of anonymous bloggers or of Twitter rumour mills." He said social media had the ability to include more voices into any one issue, including political debates. This, he predicted, would be practised in the coming months as people went to social media to discuss issues related to the general election.

"I can confidently predict that this will be Malaysia's first 'social media election'." Najib said he had imposed upon his ministers and potential election candidates to be social media-savvy people as it helped them to get engaged with the people who are Internet users. He said people or organisations with power needed to embrace social media as it was a new form of communicating with the people. At the event, Najib was bestowed the "Leadership in Social Media Award" by the Social Media Chambers Malaysia for leading the way in social media usage within the government sector. Earlier, Najib met with his one millionth Facebook follower, Rina Azmira Rahmat, and her family.

Najib also took a photograph of the crowd at the event and made it his first posting on his newly opened Instagram account. He said Malaysia was the perfect venue for such an event as the country boasts solid technology infrastructure and Malaysians have "naturally sociable personalities" which made them avid social media users.