Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived – positively and negatively – today.

From the nascent beginning of this innovation where it primarily focused on personal interactions to the recently adopted platform for governments to bring in more transparency, social media has kept many on their toes.

Bhutan like the rest of the world couldn’t help but be drawn to this revolutionary leap. However, understanding the potential of social media as a tool for development and at the same time a weapon for destruction, the country came up with a social media policy for the government.

In an effort to equip and raise awareness on the media policy among the civil servants, a five-day workshop on Social Media in Development and Governance concluded in Thimphu yesterday.

Organised by the Department of Information and Media (DoIM), the workshop aimed on improving the professional capacity of civil servants on the use of social media to encourage public participation and sharing of information.

The director of Bhutan Media & Communications Institute, Pushpa Chhetri, said that with the transition of Bhutanese society into digital-based system, the need to train individuals especially civil servants on social media platforms has become crucial.

“Given the challenges we have as a small country, the need to disseminate relevant information to all have become important,” said Pushpa Chhetri. “Therefore, effectively using social media for dissemination of information will compliment the existing system of giving out public information.”

A total of 20 senior government officials were trained during the workshop. One of the participants, Yeshey Lhendup, said that the experience was enriching and has helped him know more on the usage of social media for development purposes.

“Social media like Facebook for me has been just for personal consumption,” said the deputy chief programme officer with the education ministry. “But from the workshop I have learned how my professional conduct can be enhanced through the use of platforms like Facebook.”

The education ministry today is one of the ministries who make the most of social media. The ministry’s Facebook page, Sherig Bhutan, uploads regular updates, keeping the public informed.

Yeshey Lhendup said that he would be discussing options to develop a social media guideline for the ministry and also for all the schools. “Since the ICT curriculum is currently being reviewed, maybe we can also have provisions for the inclusion of social media policy in schools.”

So far DoIM has trained some 90 civil servants on the newly developed social media policy. The department’s chief information and media officer, Tshering Yangden, said that the department is currently compiling a report on some of the programmes and initiatives being conducted in respective ministries and departments on the use of social media.

Younten Tshedup