BREAKING NEWS : A SHUTDOWN OF SOCIAL MEDIA WILL BRING MORE HARM THAN BENEFITS TO GHANA

PRESS STATEMENT TO ALL MEDIA HOUSES (PRINT, WEB, RADIO AND TELEVISION) A SHUTDOWN OF SOCIAL MEDIA WILL BRING MORE HARM THAN BENEFITS TO GHANA. Due to the importance of social media, its use has increased over the last few years and as a result increased the number of such social media applications across the world, with more yet to spring up in the coming years. This all goes to show how social media has come to stay not only in Ghana but across the world. Wikipedia defines social media as computer-mediated tools that allow people or companies to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. There are a lot of social media sites/applications with a few of them being Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Imo, Instagram, Skype, Whatsapp, Line, Viber, Wechat, LinkedIn, Reddit, Wikipedia, google+, Pininterest and others. On Thursday, May 26, 2016, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the Ghana Police Service(GPS), Mr. Kudalor told journalists at a media briefing that blocking access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networking sites, could be on the cards for the security of the nation during this year’s ballot since they believe that will help prevent social media platforms from being used to create tension during the elections through misinformation. His comment has erected a lot of debate among Ghanaians with the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), some opposition political parties, some Security Experts, some IT Experts, some Senior lecturers in Communication, the Ghana Journalist Association(GJA), some communication experts, the Media Foundation For West Africa(MFWA), IMANI, some senior social commentators and others going against it while some few people including some leading members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) endorsing it. After carefully following the debate and analysing well with all opinions pushed forth by all who have involved themselves in this debate, Critical Thinkers International (CTI) are of the view that it will be a disaster for the IGP to shutdown social media during the general elections because the advantages of social media totally outweighs that of its disadvantages. As a matter of fact a close analysis shows that the disadvantage eventhough exists, is very negligible and below are our reasons; A. A shutdown of social media is against both the constitution of Ghana and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations Assembly of which Ghana is a signatory, through the abuse of the rights of the Citizens’ freedom of speech and the free operation of the press/media. B. Aside politics, social media also have so many other purposes such as a platform for business, education, entertainment, religion, link up with family/friends and others. Research has shown that it is only a few people in Ghana who use it for politics, actually, the majority use it for the many other purposes, so a shutdown of it for even an hour will bring about a huge disadvantage to a majority of citizens, immigrants and emigrants of Ghana. C. It has become a tool for a quick access to new information in addition to clarification and authentication of old information, and through this can help strengthen democracy and enhance transparency especially during elections. D. A shutdown of the social media is likely to bring about suspicion of a possible manipulation of election, mistrust and a possible rejection by the opposition parties especially incase the sitting government wins. E. From precedence, with taking the 2012 biometric registration and election, the Talensi, Amenfi West, Abuakwa North by elections, the internal contests of the various political parties, the 2015, 2016 limited voters’ registrations and others as reference, it can easily be seen that social media brought about no tension in Ghana, but rather, it exposed the many bad activities that some individuals and political parties engaged in during these registrations and elections, with few of such bad activities that social media exposed during such occasions as examples below; i. Snatching of ballot boxes ii. Intimidation of opponents iii. Destruction of electoral materials iv. Abuse and disrespect of electoral laws v. Others Actually, the IGP’s use of Uganda as a reference for his reason for considering a social media shutdown alone has to get his call neglected by all because the social media shutdown in Uganda didn’t only result in condemnation by Human Rights groups across the world before and after the elections but also, it resulted in violence in Uganda after their elections. Moreover, misinformation can not only be attributed to social media, actually, it can also be associated with all other forms of media such as Online and Print media, Television, Radio and others. So does it mean the IGP will push for a shutdown of these also? It has become even most sad that the IGP will even

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