Social Media: With the recent defamation case between a businessman and a freelance journalist  underway for the sharing of a post on social media, proper use of the platform was discussed during the 26th Meet the Press yesterday.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that because of social media, some landmark cases have taken place and how the judiciary implements the laws of the land is very significant. “We have to be bound by the judiciary’s decision ultimately,” Lyonchoen said. “The recent defamation case will also be a landmark case we should be paying attention to. These are very important times in our country,” he said.

“I think we can all agree that the laws of the land must prevail, that the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression but that right does not mean we undermine the right of others,” Lyonchoen said. “So our job collectively is to enjoy our rights by protecting the rights of others and to make social media a safe, credible and a place where vibrant discussion takes place, and not the divisive debate that sometimes take place on social media and definitely not while using an anonymous account,” Lyonchoen said.

The Prime Minister said social media can be unique in Bhutan by making it serve democracy, the people and the country.

Information and communications minister, DN Dhungyel, said it’s common that more people are now using social media, which is a platform people must use but for constructive purposes.

“As of now, Bhutanese are using social media in a sensible manner but often we come across news that takes an unhealthy trend. For that, we do have a social media policy coming into force where we have incorporated certain restrictions regarding what we can share on social media and what we can’t share or what kind of news can come into the social media, among others,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said social media is a tool that should be used and the government does not intend to restrict its use but will encourage people to use it in a more careful, responsible and positive manner.

While economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji said any laws or policies on social media might not be effective because technology is pervasive. “The mainstream media can come into play here to educate the users on the proper use of social media irrespective of its advantages and disadvantages,” Lyonpo said.

Thinley Zangmo