Rural Bhutan Grapples with the Misuse of Social Media

While the penetration of social media has enhanced communication and transformed the information sharing culture in rural Bhutan, users are now seeing the ugly side of technology.

Villagers attending the Media Literacy Programme on October 14. (Source: kuenselonline.com)

Misuse of Social Media

Recently, an unclothed image of a man in Trongsa which was shared on WeChat reached his daughter based in Thimphu. “It is a disturbing trend,” a teacher from Sonamthang Central School in Panbang, who participated in the media literacy and advocacy programme, conducted by the Journalists Association of Bhutan (JAB) said.

He said that a group of young village boys, who were ignorant of the consequences, photographed the man and shared his nude image through WeChat. The man is reported to have been drunk and had fallen asleep under a tree.

“Trongsa police managed to track those boys and detained them for a night after a family member lodged a complaint,” he said.

During discussions on the impact of social media, participants agree that social media has transformed information sharing culture in places like Panbang in Zhemgang.  Some pointed out that social media has granted people the freedom to say and do what they like. “This has encouraged many to wear the cloak of anonymity and attack whoever they do not like,” Phuntsho Namgyel of Sonamthang Central School said.

The traditional media, according to Phuntsho Namgyel, plays the role of counterbalancing fake news and anonymous comments circulating on social media. “So traditional media is crucial for us,” he said.

One participant said that men through WeChat and Facebook deceived many villagers, especially girls and women. “For instance, there were cases in Trongsa where some supporting staff, drivers, and security personnel of the Mangdechhu project impersonated as engineers and site supervisors to lure girls and women,” he said. “Our innocent girls and women are gullible to what they said. Such trend should be stopped.”

Implementation of the Media Literacy Programme

Led by the Gup, Mangmi, Tshogpa and Chipon, more than 50 villagers between 21 and 65 years of age from Ngangla gewog in Zhemgang attended the media literacy programme on October 14.

An access to media survey conducted as part of the programme showed that more than 70 percent of the participants used WeChat and Facebook while 76 percent (38) used WeChat. Radio and newspaper are the least used media in Panbang. Some participants said that they have not even seen a newspaper for the last seven to eight years.

Ngangla gup Rinchen Wangdi said that such media advocacy was useful as many people are sharing fake news, nude images and distributing obscene video clips, without understanding the dire consequences.

In Dorokha, Samtse more than 65 participants between 18 and 65 years of age attended the programme on October 17. Some walked more than six hours to hear and share their experiences on social media.

Supported by United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDF), the JAB took the media literacy programme to four remote communities in three regions of the country- Sakteng in Trashigang, Panbang in Zhemgang and Dorokha in Samtse. The next awareness programme is scheduled for Adha Rukha, Wangduephodrang this weekend.

 

By Rinzin Wangchuk (This article has been edited for the Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on Kuensel.

 


Related Posts

Bhutanese Youths head to South Korea for Vocational Training

A total of 18 young Bhutanese headed to South Korea’s Jeju Province in late Sept 2017 where they will undergo trainings...

Oct 06, 2017 17:30

Entrepreneurship Course Equips Youth with Business Skills

More than 30 out of school youths are learning how to make banana bread, chips, fruit wine and cardamom tea at a basic...

Oct 15, 2017 15:21

Remittances from Youths Working in the Middle East

Remittances from Bhutanese youth working in the middle-east was around Nu 204 million last year according to records...

Oct 19, 2017 13:12

Drukair Orders New Aircraft That's Equipped With Latest Visual...

The new ClearVision technology on the aircraft allows pilots to get a clear picture of the runway while landing the...

Jul 19, 2018 12:47

After 9 Years, The Amochhu Bridge In Bhutan Finally Opened On 14...

The driving distance between Phuentsholing and Samtse is now reduced to 57km from 81.2km

Jul 18, 2018 14:57

Thai PM Prayut To Discuss Trade And Investment During Visit To...

He will be visiting Bhutan for two days from July 19 to 20.

Jul 18, 2018 09:58

Latest

News

Drukair Orders New Aircraft That's Equipped With Latest Visual Technology

The new ClearVision technology on the aircraft allows pilots to get a clear picture of the runway while landing the aircraft.

Jul 19, 2018 12:47

After 9 Years, The Amochhu Bridge In Bhutan Finally Opened On 14 July 2018

The driving distance between Phuentsholing and Samtse is now reduced to 57km from 81.2km

Jul 18, 2018 14:57

Features

Bhutan's climb to medicines safety

Pharmacovigilance is the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse drug...

Jul 17, 2018 14:31

11th Golden Youth Award Camp Aims To Inspire Bhutanese Youth To Excel Holistically

The camp’s theme ‘Celebrating Unity for Excellence’, is a pledge by the youth to be advocators and agents of peace, harmony and...

Jul 12, 2018 16:14

Sports

Future Of Bhutan’s Women Football Depends On The Development Of Local Coaches

The football coach of the national women’s team, Sung Jea Lee said that there is a need to train local coaches.

Jul 08, 2018 18:16

Bhutan’s Two Young Representatives Shared Their Unforgettable Experiences At The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

Bhutan was represented by two students, Rigzin Tenzin, 12, from Gelephu and Kinley Deki Yangzom, 12, from Lobesa Lower Secondary School,...

Jun 30, 2018 14:06

Business

Cottage And Small Industry Which Saw 20% Growth Is A Pillar Of Bhutan’s Industry Sector

To date, the CSIs constitute more than 90 percent of Bhutan’s industry sector.

Jul 19, 2018 13:46

Royal Bhutan Helicopter Services Has Generated Profits And Served More Than 500 Tourists And Locals Since 2016

The RBHS was launched with the primary objective of providing services during medical emergencies and natural disasters and also for tourism...

Jul 14, 2018 14:23

Travel

Heading To Haa, Bhutan For The Summer Festival? Here Are Some Culinary Delights You Must Not Miss!

Savour the most delectable cuisine from the province of Haa in Bhutan.

Jul 13, 2018 14:54

Rare Masked Dances - One Of The Unique Features Of The Kholong Tshechu (Brawl Festival) In Bhutan

“Other dances like the Pha-dong chham, Sangling Ngachham, and Terchham among others are not performed in any part of the country,” said...

Jul 03, 2018 14:44

Lifestyle

Suja – Bhutanese Butter Tea Infused With Happiness To Kickstart Your Day

Traditionally, Suja is made from tea leaves, water, salt and yak butter.

Jul 17, 2018 17:19

Bhutan Film Festival Held In Sikkim To Commemorate 50 Years Of Bhutan-India Friendship Ended With Colourful Traditional Dances

Bhutanese celebrities and Sikkim’s local artists performed various traditional and cultural performances at the festival.

Jul 15, 2018 14:32

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!