• July 5th, 2020

The dos and don’ts of social media

Paheja Siririka

WINDHOEK - There have been sparks to restrict or regulate the use of the internet and social media in Namibia, because behaviours such as loyalty, politeness and ethics are under menace as a result of some individuals who use the platform to bad-mouth and insult others.

However, Namibians and the world at large need to familiarise themselves with the dos and don’ts of social media to avoid the regulations. Mohammed Shehu, who has a PhD in Informatics focusing on social media, said the type of content one posts heavily depends on the reason they are on social media in the first place. 

“A general rule of thumb is to imagine that everything you say on social media gets put up on a billboard that people will drive past every single day for the rest of your life,” stated Shehu.

He said even if you delete a tweet, screenshots are common these days. “It may well come back to haunt you 10 years down the line when you’re applying for a big job or campaigning for an important political position,” mentioned Shehu.

He further said careers have been derailed by the ghosts of past tweets. “In other words, use your common sense and judgment to determine whether what you’re about to post will irrevocably stain your future reputation,” cautioned Shehu.

According to him, the way one ought to behave on social media should be based on common sense. He gave two valuable tips that social media users should be aware of:

Do post helpful content: The more value you bring to people’s lives, the more valuable it becomes to stay connected to you on social media platforms.

Don’t post fake news: I see this all the time lately; people simply forwarding or sharing a link with an attention-grabbing headline without critically thinking about whether the info may be patently false.
He cited the importance of being on social media. “Social media forms an integral part of what I do professionally. So, it’s a no-brainer for me. Social media’s biggest advantages are connection and exposure,” said Shehu.  Travis Balinas, in his blogpost published this year, compiled 25 dos and don’ts of social media comprehensively starting with completing and updating of profiles. “Think of your social media accounts as your digital first impression. Social media accounts that are only partially completed automatically appear less professional. Take a few minutes to thoughtfully fill out all your profile information – including contact information,” he stated.

Balinas encourages the prioritisations of networks. “It may be tempting to try every new social media platform that sprouts up, but it’s dangerous to spread yourself too thin. To start, focus on the social networks where you know who your customers are. More than likely, that’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and either Instagram or Twitter. Providing quality content via these outlets is worth your time and effort, no matter your industry,” read the blog post.

It further says providing helpful content is nice, but it’s not all social media has to offer. “Interacting with your followers is also key,” wrote Balinas.

When it comes to the don’ts, Balinas shared that one should always be transparent to gain trust. “Should you run into an issue that causes a flurry of criticism on social media, the worst thing you can do is try and hide from it. Try and respond the best you can, and don’t become defensive. Work to remedy the issue and let those who cared about it online know when it’s resolved,” read the post.

He has also advised social media users to avoid poor grammar and spelling. “Few things reduce your credibility as quickly as grammar mistakes and spelling errors can. To help avoid them, prep your social media updates in a document or spreadsheet with spell check. You can also ask a colleague to proofread before you share,” he elaborated.

This week, Stanley Simaata, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, assured that the Namibian government had no desire to restrict the use of the Internet and social media, which is a sigh of relief to many who objected the idea in the first place.  

According to a report by the Namibian Press Agency (Nampa), Simataa said some people use the internet and social media to spread unverified and inaccurate information and if they tolerated, then there is a risk of government making laws to restrict its use. “If this is not properly managed, the Internet may become a hotbed for unverified, invalidated and inaccurate information which will harm innocent social media users,” said Simataa. 

He said the Namibia Internet Governance Forum was recently opened to find ways to mitigate threats to the security of personal data, the security of corporations and institutions as well as the security of the nation-state. “The moment the security of the state is compromised, the use of the Internet will also be compromised,” he said.

The Nampa report states that the minister warned stakeholders in the information and communication technology industry to not undermine the security of the nation because it is only when the country is secure that citizens will continue to enjoy their full rights and privileges guaranteed by the Namibian constitution.

Staff Reporter
2019-10-04 09:00:11 | 9 months ago

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