Media Defense: the Role of Social Media Platforms in Forming Public Opinion

Aug 11, 2018

 

11 Aug 2018

 

Fourth session

 

The session was opened by the guests' introduction about their activities in the civil
society.


-the session started by a question that was directed by the interviewer (Ali Al-Karkhi)
to (Mustafa Al Sufi) about the influence of the electronic armies on motivating public
opinion.


(Mustafa Al Sufi) answered: "there is confusion about the use of term (electronic
armies). It is an exaggerated term, and often used negatively. Thus, it's best to name
these armies as electronic groups. Besides, not all electronic groups have illegal or
unethical attempts.


(Mustafa) revealed that: "I and my fellow activists formed electronic counterattacks
against the fake news after the events of 2014, when some attacks tried to envisage
the Iraqi soldier in a sectarian form, and others were calling for demolishing entire
cities. Those electronic groups were able to make a positive effect on the public
opinion".


-from his part, the interviewer (Ali Al-Karkhi) assured that: "the civil society has to
use methods similar to those that are used by (the electronic armies) that try to affect
the public opinion negatively or direct it to specific political interests- for example,
about the issue of internet interruption during the protests that occurred recently, there
had to be wide-range campaigns that declare that what happened was a crime and it
was violating human rights of the freedom to express opinion".


- (Mustafa Nasser) expressed: "there is a must to privatizing the internet as a
fundamental solution, as not all the outlets should be only under the control of the
Iraqi Ministry of Communications, but opportunities must be given to private sector
companies that contribute in importing outlets that are specialized for them".


About internet connection, (Ali Al-Karkhi) said in his words that: "it is an important
issue. Demanding the government to block some pages and websites that fuel
sectarianism has to be limited to terrorist ideologies, otherwise it will be a pretext to
suppress the dissenting opinions".


- Then, the interviewer (Ali Al-Karkhi) directed another question about the impact of (social
media sites) in supporting political situations of parties?


- (Mustafa Al Sufi) answered this question: "there are about (17 million) Iraqi Facebook
users, if a political official of some party has been able to influence only one million people
across that platform, this, in itself, supports his political position and often raises a fuss in
comments and then people exchange the insults. "


(Mustafa) added that: "going through the campaigns against decisions and actions that are
made by politicians must be objective and kept away from the personal motives and insults
exchanging, however this person is a sectarian or racist, because this leads to negative
results and weakens the impact of these campaigns".


- The interviewer asked about are the importance of what is known as Hash Tag, and its role
in supporting the attitude of the campaigns on social media sites.


(Mustafa Al Sufi) answered as he had the experience in that field: "The Hash Tag is a means
to fix posts on a certain issue for the purpose of motivating public opinion. Mr. Mustafa
expressed that during the past years, international companies such as Google, Facebook and
Twitter were not serious about fighting Rumors and fake news until recent months as a
result of the international pressure".