UAE is forward thinking in addressing media challenges: Facebook’s Politics & Government Specialist

SHARJAH, Elizabeth Linder, Facebook’s Politics & Government Specialist for Europe, Middle East and Africa, described the COVID pandemic as “a huge moment for digital communications.”

“Those virtual conversations are getting more meaningful because they’re our only choice. And I think that has humanised these technologies,” she told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of the 10th Government Communication Forum which concluded in Sharjah Monday after two days of brainstorming panel discussions, inspirational talks, and interactive programmes, to envision the future of government communications.

“The most exciting thing about Social media platforms is their ability to attract a huge variety of people, organisations and institutions in order to bring stories to life. They have revolutionised the way we can get our news and understand what we can get from officials and organisations from all over the world. So despite the challenges, we cannot lose sight of this magic.”

On balance, social media has had a positive impact on the way we can discover and share information, she continued. “The challenge they come about and which has probably been underestimated is the role misinformation can play in society in a harmful way. Social media companies themselves don’t meddle in the way misinformation come from. They allow information to come from the users themselves. But increasingly social media companies have realised they need a new model of governance. Internet governance needs to be revolutionised and catch up now with how the information environment looks like today.”

She underlined the need to realise what people expect from social media.

“Governments should know that people need more from social media. People need to know why decisions are being made, and how you came about this or that decision. They no longer need to know only the bottom-line.”

“We came out from a very challenging 18 months. There was a lot of misinformation, but in other ways there has been an amazing side. How would life look like without social media?” she wondered. “The fact that many people of us remained connected despite the pandemic is amazing. I myself was not able to see my family for 18 months.”

Speaking about her experience in the UAE which she visited some years ago, to conduct a workshop on the use of social media, Elizabeth said, “what makes the UAE an exciting place is that when they reach a local audience here, they are also reaching a global audience, in many languages and from many cultures.

“When I came to the UAE to work with media teams to explain the role of Facebook, the UAE has been forward thinking about the need to restructure their communications teams to keep up with the wide space.

“What I really admire here the government organsiations are very early on. They organise workshops and gather together key representatives from various media offices to share best practices and ideas, like the forum we’re on now,” she concluded.

Source: Emirates News Agency

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