munaFacebook is facing a propaganda war these days. It is being accused of promoting violence and murder. Everyone knows for sure what Facebook is, especially the Arabs. It had a major role in highlighting several coups in the Arab world, especially in Egypt, and even today and despite the multitude of social media apps, Facebook still occupies a good spot and attracts many people around the world. It is open, free and easy to access anytime and anywhere. But the honeymoon may soon end….

A non-governmental organization has launched a media war against Facebook, accusing it of contributing to the dissemination of hate and incitement, indirectly, on its pages. The organization claims that the Palestinians, who were the perpetrators of recent attacks against Israelis, have declared their intention to carry out suicide operations and expressed their desire to be “martyrs” on Facebook without any supervision or control. They say Facebook could have stopped this.

As for the calls for violence, discrimination and racism, I can say the same thing holds true for nearly all social media sites, politicians, TV channels and even cartoons nowadays. Everyone knows that social media is available to everyone to write and express whatever he/she pleases. I also know that it is not reasonable or acceptable to accept invitations to murder and violence, and I guess website owners have the power to stop these pages and remove them, but I do not see this happening very often. The problem is not with Facebook as a site, but with the users.

There is no doubt that the Middle East now is living under a state of violence, rage and confusion in most of it regions. People do not live in isolation from what is happening around them, and some may drift emotionally in the way they express their sentiments and use words or make suggestions that may not generally reflect their feelings.

I agree that some terrorist militias are using social media to spread their ideas because they do not dare to make public appearances, as well as there are those who use these sites for sex and dating. There are multiple reasons on the part of users, but companies should assume moral and societal responsibility towards what is being published on their sites.

The impact of Facebook is different from one country to another. In Kuwait, for example, Twitter is the most powerful tool for the majority of young people among other media apps and not Facebook. I see that WhatsApp now has become a hotbed of rumors and lies. It’s a crisis, but no one is calling for the closure of these sites because this is not the right solution or the end to problems.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net