By Aung Kyaw Thant
Everybody knows a quotation of American author and humourist Mark Twain (1835-1910), saying that ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes’.
All the global people are hungry to taste the information which happens across the world in every second not to be lagged behind the lie. Humans are a kind of living beings who are generally eager to taste the information that is obtained from various sources on a daily basis. They come to the sources of information that can be identified as ‘gossiping’ even if they cannot receive the information on time.
Today’s media sector in Myanmar is on a downtrend due to narrowing the platform of media based on halting the publishing of magazines, journals and newspapers one after another for various reasons. Indeed, the halting of publications is primarily based on the financial crisis.
The narrower the media platform is, the more the readers reach online. They can search for any items of information online. A scholar said the Internet is a great gold pot if one can efficiently use it. It is true.
Nowadays, not only researchers and scholars but the general public, including students, workers, farmers, vendors and so on, are browsing social network pages as well as Facebook pages.
On the other hand, those relying on literature such as writers, poets, journalists, publishers and printers are also facing difficulties of livelihoods because of fading out the opportunities of print media. At the same time, broadcast media, as well as other remaining media, is on a critical way to overcome the challenges for various reasons.
In reviewing the problems, all the media being operated across the world, including Myanmar, primarily need the capital and investment for their production and outcomes. But, most of the online users from Facebook founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his associates do not require the capital in consuming the information from the Facebook pages and posting various statuses of information such as general knowledge, religious affairs, stories, articles, news, literature and others. They can browse all the individual pages from the Facebook page as they like. Facebook serves them with various information items and stories in a short time. Likewise, users from other social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Douyin, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Skype, WeChat, Tik Tok, QQ, Sina Weibo, Snapchat, WhatsApp and VK do similar acts.
In Myanmar, most of the people have easy access to social networks with the use of their mobile phone Internet. Those people, young and old, set their focus on social media day and night, setting aside various issues, except for the most important cases. They are satisfied with tasting the information online, but most of them do not analyze such information whether it is true or not. Mostly, they spend their time online, especially on Facebook pages.
Some of them in groups post a status on Facebook. Soon after, some users give ‘like’ and share the statuses on their pages to spread the information. So, a story of news that may be right or wrong can spread across the world in a short time. Moreover, these shared statuses of information easily reach the pages of other social media such as Instagram, VK, YouTube, WeChat and Twitter in a moment. Hence, American author and humorist Mark Twain (1835-1910) said that ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes’.
That is why some groups of users intentionally distribute the news created as they like to the world. Similar items of propaganda information are spreading across social media, but some per cent of viewers analyze them, and the majority of users totally believe them. Indeed, it is very dangerous not only for individuals but for the whole country.
Every user of social media in Myanmar does not know that they themselves are gradually swallowed by social media. Hence, those users do not know that they themselves become the victims of these media.
Those users do not know their situations, that they gradually commit the crime. They unknowingly break the cyber law and other provisions of the criminal procedure by posting and sharing the various statuses of stories.
In fact, the number of stories on the social network pages should be analyzed how many items of stories are free from crime. Generally, new stories can be classified as general knowledge comprising religious, social, economic, political, tourism and various subjects, the stories focusing on media affairs, the stories related to hate speech, the stories on military affairs, the stories concerning daily news posted by print media and broadcast media, the stories expressing rumours, fake news and incitements, the stories consisting of porn and yellow pages, the stories focusing on intentional attacks on State leaders whoever came into the office, the stories on historical events, advertisements, recruitment of employees, and so on.
Nonetheless, online users have the rights to enjoy various statuses of information posted on social network pages. They can choose options as they like. Everybody who just browses the posts on the Facebook pages will not face any problems because they do not commit any guilt. However, a lot of the number of users intentionally shares fake news and rumours on the pages with the attempt to attack the opposition groups. Everything may occur depending on hate speech. In fact, they break the laws. Action can be taken against those who share the statuses of hate speech with others intentionally attempting to cause deterioration in the country.
Nowadays, all the global countries speak out to stop posting and sharing the words of hate speech that encroach on and assault others. Those who post statuses of hate speech and rumours are destructionists of the mother country. They are dangerous for society. Despite having any interests, those destructionists are always wishing to commit spreading of misinformation, fake news and rumours as well as words of hate speech so as to attack the opposition groups which concepts are different from theirs.
That is why online users, especially those from Facebook pages, should analyze everything before they do. They should comprehensively review the stories to be posted on social networks. All the stories to be posted on the social network pages should be clear from the guilt which can harm others. Even if the users have true news stories, it is necessary to analyze whether the story may harm any others or whether the story may benefit whoever reads.
In fact, all the global people have different souls in their respective arenas. They have the rights to do everything they aspire. Nobody has been empowered by any bodies to restrict them what item should be posted or what items should be avoided. However, they all have to consider things what are the best moves to do with attempts to serve each other. Even if they do anything in mistake, they should repair such moves as a corrigendum to polish their prestige.
Indeed, all online users need to abide by media ethics that can promote and defend the values such as a universal respect for life and the rule of law and legality. It is the best division of applied ethics dealing with the specific ethical principles and standards of media. Many scholars defined various kinds of ethics for online media, especially for Facebook. I’d like to emphasize the issues on Facebook because most of the Myanmar people are friendly with Facebook pages. With regard to the ethics of Facebook, online users need to abide by rules based on traditional culture generally. Polite users can do their statuses without rudeness, whereas rude people may post their statuses with rude usages. For Myanmar, online user people generally need to follow only one discipline to avoid using words of hate speech against others with harming their interests. So, all the users can adjust their activities on the social network pages whether they conform with the discipline mentioned above or not.
At present, various items of statuses on the social networks occupy their respective arenas. These may be good or bad. So, users need to choose the best statuses without hate speech and assaulting each other. However, social networks carry about 10 per cent of true information among the various items of statuses.
The remaining statuses are the mixed information comprising some per cent of true news and much fake news, hate speeches, porn statuses, illegal advertisement statuses, fake historical data, personal statuses, extorted political information, rumours and others. Among them, I think hate speech may cause all kinds of unacceptable events. So, users need to seek the statuses useful for them among the wastes. The social network pages would be gold pots for all if they can choose the best ones. So, everybody needs to analyze their behaviours as well as the activities of others on the social network pages. But, they all need to uphold the significant concept when they choose to taste the information online. It is the advice of the Lord Buddha more than 2,500 years ago.
Once, Lord Buddha Gotama, followed by His disciples who were members of the Sangha, arrived at Kesamutta outskirt village in Kosala State. Gentlemen from Kesamutta outskirt village paid homage to the Lord Buddha and raised questions that some Samana Brahmana showed off their doctrines but encroached on others’. However, some Samana Brahmana introduced their doctrines but did not encroach on others’.
So, the Lord Buddha delivered a sermon on Kalama Sutta. Significantly, the Lord Buddha highlighted some points in the preaching. They were:
– Don’t accept just hearing the information from a secondary source as true.
– Don’t accept just sayings of successive ancestors as true.
– Don’t accept an unsure saying as true.
– Don’t accept just conformity with treatizes as true.
– Don’t accept just a supposition as true.
– Don’t accept just rationality based on ways and proofs as true.
– Don’t accept just a consideration over reasons as true.
– Don’t accept just conformity with own idea of a venerable person as true.
– Don’t accept just a word of an esteemed person as true.
– Don’t accept just the advice of venerable monk as true.
May all the people avoid fake news, hate speech and attack statuses on the social network pages on a daily basis.
(The views and opinions are only those of the author)