Thursday 18 January 2024
Papua New Guineans have been urged to refrain from spreading fake news or misinformation on social media networks around the country during the State of Emergency period.
Minister for Information Communications and Technology, Mr Timothy Masiu made this known during today’s (18 January 2024) live radio talk-back show hosted on National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), adding his interest is to stop the spread of harmful misinformation about government and individuals during this time.
Mr Masiu used the opportunity to also explain to the public about a recent media statement published in one of the daily newspapers which was taken out of context regarding his stance as Minister for ICT on widespread circulation of misinformation and disinformation on Facebook and other social media platforms during this critical time in the country’s history.
Minister Masiu clarifies his stand as ICT Minister regarding Social Media in PNG and dispelled rumors and disinformation regarding total shut down of Social media (Facebook, twitter and Instagram, among others.) in PNG.
“Despite everyone in PNG has freedom of right and expression under the Constitution, people are urged to be more responsible when posting things on social media,” Mr Masiu said.
Under the State of Emergency provisions and as Minister for ICT, the ICT Minister has the power to place a total ban on social media in the country.
Mr Masiu admits there are many disadvantages of having a total ban on social media in the country, as many SMEs’ operate online businesses and other genuine citizens who rely on social media platforms, will however be severely affected.
Minister Masiu who is vocal in pushing the government’s Digital Transformation agenda wants people on social media to refrain from spreading false information to the general public which can incite or provoke violence as what had transpired on 10 January, 2024 in Port Moresby and around the country during the days which followed.
Mr Masiu’s stern warning to social media users in the country is to be responsible and stop spreading and creating misinformation and disinformation during the SoE period.
He further stated the January 10 incident, had a sharp increase on social media in the country where users publishing negative content, misinformation and hate posts towards, the Government, certain ministers, individuals and the country, hence creating misconception, panic and chaos, as well as portraying a bad image of the country in the overseas media.
He further cautioned the general public to be more responsible and refrain from misusing and abusing social media platforms.
He said that his Ministry, Dept of ICT along with NICTA and other industry stakeholders are working together to address this critical issues and create more awareness so people are more informed about the advantage and disadvantage of misinformation and disinformation on social media.
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Information Communication Technology Authority (NICTA), Kila Gulo-Vui, who accompanied Minister Masiu to the talk show program, also appealed to residents of Port Moresby not to buy any phones from street sellers, as these were looted from Rapid Phone outlet.
He added these phones are being monitored and would not serve any purpose.