The National Media Commission (NMC), has stated that a social media ban in the country would be in breach of the rights and freedoms of Ghanaians.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), had earlier announced that his outfit was considering shutting down social media services in the country on December 7, to counter the activities of persons who might compromise security efforts ahead of the elections.
The comments sparked widespread criticism from social media users and human rights activists across the country.
Although the police have since clarified that a social media blackout on election day is only a consideration, it said will only be a last resort.
The NMC Chairman, Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, who was speaking at at a ceremony to launch a new Code of Conduct for Members of the Ghana Independent Broadcaster Association (GIBA), stated that banning social media would be unlawful.
“Social media is a useful communication tool and it has come to stay. Any attempt to ban it would constitute a severe infringement on the freedom of expression of Ghanaians,” he said.
He however advised social media users to “exercise the most serious discretion in our use of social media especially for political purposes.”
Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng cautioned media organisations who pick stories from social media to ensure the credibility of the information before they are broadcast to the public.
“The most menacing thing about social media is the jump of its contents into traditional media without any gate-keeping or professional mediation. The solution is not to ban social media but it’s for each and every one of us to take personal responsibility for what we publish. This is not merely a requirement because it is proper and professional, but because our nation’ safety and survival depend on it,” he added.
The Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister-designate, Emmanuel Bombande recently advised against the social media ban.
Mr. Bombande, who took his turn at the ministerial vetting on Friday, admitted that social media has its downsides, with several users engaging in “irresponsible” activities on the platform.
However, he believes that the police would be better served focusing on the benefits that could be accrued from the use of social media services in the country.
“I would not advise that we shut down social media but that does not mean in my advise that I do not recognize the potential danger it presents. I’m looking more at the potential benefits. What we need to do is to establish the mechanism that makes the use of social media a tool of more responsibility, that’s on all of us rather than shut it down,” he said
Source: The News Statesman