The people are concerned by the disturbing pictures being posted and shared on social media platforms. Sometimes it is the severed bodies from accident sites, at other times, they are picture of suicides.

And no action is taken against such acts.

Although Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Act 2006 states that Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) should take steps to regulate or curtail the harmful and illegal content on the Internet and other ICT and media services, the Information, Communications and Media (ICM) Act of Bhutan 2018 has transferred the power to the yet to be established media council.

Section 71.4 of the ICM Act states that media council will regulate or curtail any harmful, offensive, illegal or antithetical contents on the internet, and other ICT and Media services, unless otherwise provided under specific provisions in the Act.

Director of Department of Information and Media (DoIM), Rinchen Dorji, said that as per the Social Media Policy of the government, agencies are required to have their own Social Media plans and monitoring mechanisms in place. 

As per the Agency Plans of the Social Media Policy, all government agencies should develop and implement their respective social media plans.

Rinchen Dorji said that the department has trained Information and Media Officers (IMOs) from the ministries, dzongkhag administrations and autonomous agencies on how to develop social media guidelines and sensitise on monitoring mechanisms.

“Civil servants are bound by BCSR 2018. BCSR provides code of conduct for the civil servants,” he said. “We are also not empowered by any law to monitor the contents but we can sensitise.”

Rinchen Dorji said that the target audience for the sensitisation programme are prioritised based on the resources made available to the department.

Chief Information & Media Officer of Media Relations and Postal Communications Division, Singye Wangmo, said that the IMOs identified in the agencies act as the focal person and manages the social media platform. “They will filter all the necessary information for their own agencies.”

She said that people post on social media without knowing the repercussions. “They lack media literacy. We also cannot blame them as it is done out of ignorance and is not intentional. If they are made aware, they might not do it.”

The police, Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), Royal Civil Service Commission and media houses, she said, need to come together to make people aware of social media use. “Collective awareness needs to be done. Appropriate messages to appropriate target and inappropriate language needs to be disseminated.”

DoIM has been carrying out sensitisation workshops on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in colleges and schools for the last five years. MIL’s social media session sensitise teachers and students on advantage and disadvantages of social media, global statistics, emerging trends, and other social media related information.

DoIM has carried out sensitisation workshops in six colleges and 32 higher secondary schools covering 6,578 students and 3,525 teachers, and 319 Non-Formal Education (NFE) instructors across the country.

The sensitisation workshops on the social media policy have been carried out for 10 dzongkhag administration offices, and for IMOs and media focal persons of nine ministries and 17 autonomous agencies and departments. Four groups of civil servants, including health officials and research officers, have also been sensitised.

However, Director General of BICMA Chencho Dorji said that the social media policy is vague and applies only to the civil servants.

He said that BICMA could monitor only those who have been licensed by the authority. “BICMA will be responsible only when it comes to the ICT licensee that we have licensed. Others fall under the public domain,” he said. “MoIC and law enforcement agencies need to come together and work out.”

Experts from Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd. (FIOSPL), who were in the country last week, said that Facebook users could have their account verified and authenticated. Genuine accounts, especially for agencies and celebrities, are provided with a small blue tick mark on their account. Individual Facebook users who wish to authenticate their accounts can contact Facebook, who will then verify and authenticate the account with the tick mark.

FIOSPL’s associate manager of public policy open Internet and privacy, Snehashish Ghosh, said that every content on Facebook could be reported, and that once reported, it could be removed.

Karma Cheki