The Government is going to devise strategies to regulate social media content, a move which is intended to curb the spread of misinformation, the Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, has disclosed.
Ingabire made the revelation on Friday while responding to MP Jean Claude Ntezimana’s concerns over abusive social media content and false identities.
This was during the budget hearing for the financial year 2019/2020 before the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony.
“There are instances where people communicate the way they please on social media like Facebook and Twitter usually with fake accounts and use such platforms to spread misinformation,” Ntezimana said.
“Is there any way you can help us track those people such that a person bears in mind that they will be held accountable for what they are going to write?” he asked officials from the Ministry.
Describing the content on social media platforms in general, Ingabire said it was misleading, necessitating regulation.
“We have started a programme to engage with all people owning social media platforms so that we devise an approach to regulate content because when it’s not lies, it is misinformation, defamation,” she said.
“We are really looking to protect our citizens more than anything. That is the core objective of why we need to regulate content so that we are able to protect our citizens and make sure that we are creating a safe space for our citizens,” she said.
Countries like the UK, she said, have been aggressive in this issue by drawing up strategies that curb the way misinformation is circulated via social media.
“All the countries especially the developed economies are already embarking on a campaign to regulate content on social media platforms,” she said.
“And that the Government of Rwanda is keen on doing because, yes, there has to be free sharing of information, but at the same time it has to be information that is building the people, that is building a country, but not just really circulating misinformation, defamation,” she indicated.
The minister pointed out that when social media platforms are used to rally people to create disorganisation in society, it has its effects on the fabric of society.
“So, we are not going to wait as a country until that happens to us to start thinking very critically about how do we regulate content on social media and how do we make sure that social media is a tool that is used for the good of the nation and the people, because that is really our intention as a government,” Ingabire stated.
“We are already seeing the trends happening elsewhere, especially in developed countries, and so we are safeguarding our people ahead of time,” she said.
At the Transform Africa Summit which is going to take place in Rwanda next week, there will be teams that will specifically discuss the issue of social media content regulation, the minister said.