During the course of last week, the Vice President, Mr Ousainu Darboe has said that social media is destroying the Gambia. He said that social media has been put to good effect during the struggle against Jammeh but today it is destroying the country.
This statement has caused some apprehension in some quarters as analysts and commentators have raised alarm over fears of the possibility of government trying to curtail, control or restrict the use of social media. It is not new as it has been observed in some countries that have repressive regimes put in laws intended to limit citizens’ access to social media.
Even closer to home here, it was observed that during the past regime, government tried to limit access to some social media platforms. For instance, there was a time when people could not use WhatsApp, and on election day 1st December 2016 itself, the country’ internet connection was closed down.
Thus, it is not farfetched to imagine that given the reaction of this government to criticisms levelled against it over the period, government may try to find ways to control, curtail or limit citizens’ access to this very important tool in today’s age of technology.
It will be prudent to remind the powers that be that it was the blessing of social media (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp) that enabled Gambians to connect with each other in the struggle, exchange ideas, raise awareness and even funds in order to oust the former regime. This has been acknowledged by both Darboe and Barrow.
As a result, it will be counter-productive to try to curtail or control social media in any way. Government must allow citizens to use social media to share ideas and exchange opinions as they wish. Of course, people should be urged strongly to avoid anything on social media which can disturb the peace.
Government should actually take advantage of this important tool to sell their ideas and enlighten citizens of their actions and plans. Make good use of social media!