Education on freedom of speech vital

WITH hate speech rife on social media, MIDA chairman Ashwin Raj says he is not focused on more regulation to combat this.

Instead, he says, there is a need to educate people on the importance of exercising their freedom of speech responsibly.

He made the comments while responding to a question at the Fiji multi-stakeholder security symposium on whether there are attempts by MIDA to regulate hate speech on social media.

Mr Raj says while for Fiji there is an argument that people are moving to social media to express opinions because of draconian media laws, this is not a case in isolation.

He said those were the same instances found in cases of uprising of the Arab Spring and other places all over the world.

“The problem with that is the ways in which that has, in a very fundamental sense, inaugurated all these possibilities for democratic discourse, and at the same time eroded the very potential for democratic balance because the kind of threats, hate speech and completely divisive material all in the name of democracy,” Mr Raj said.

“And part of the problem is that a lot of people on social media that actually do this stuff are young people.

“So we need to actually question this kind of uncritical acceptance that young people are part of these democratic values and so on and so forth.”

Mr Raj said regulations were not enough citing the example that even though Fiji had a Robust Media Decree, there were still transgressions of all sorts.

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