Rural Bhutan Grapples with the Misuse of Social Media

Email

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

Discover The Transformation Of Samtse On Bhutan’s 111th National...

“The most remote gewog is now connected with roads,” said Man Bir Gurung of Norgaygang.

Dec 17, 2018 20:07

Bhutan Enters ‘Preparatory Period’ Of Five Years To Graduate From...

The 'preparatory period' will end on 13 December 2023.

Dec 17, 2018 09:58

Rotary Club Of Thimphu And Taichung East Donated Medical...

Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo said that at a time when the ministry was aspiring to provide quality health services,...

Dec 14, 2018 13:08

Latest

News

Discover The Transformation Of Samtse On Bhutan’s 111th National Day Celebrations

“The most remote gewog is now connected with roads,” said Man Bir Gurung of Norgaygang.

Dec 17, 2018 20:07

Bhutan Enters ‘Preparatory Period’ Of Five Years To Graduate From Its Least Developed Countries Status

The 'preparatory period' will end on 13 December 2023.

Dec 17, 2018 09:58

Features

Endangered One-Horned Rhinoceros Spotted At Royal Manas National Park In Bhutan

The one-horned rhinoceros was captured multiple times in a camera trap set up for tracking tigers.

Dec 16, 2018 12:33

73 Year Old Non-Formal Education Instructor Wants To Continue Teaching In Bhutan's Remote Villages

At 73, Serchung is one of the oldest non-formal education (NFE) instructors in Bhutan today.

Dec 16, 2018 01:09

Sports

Japanese Volunteers Taught Football Skills To Some Young Monks And Hope to Reach Out To All Other Monastic Institutions In Bhutan

Held on World Children’s Day on 20 November, the programme was spearheaded by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV).

Nov 24, 2018 06:06

Female Archer Dorji Dema Hopes To Inspire More Women To Take Up Archery In Bhutan

Dorji Dema, a mother of three is among the first women in Bhutan to play in an archery tournament.

Nov 05, 2018 08:11

Business

JICA’s Horticulture Projects Benefit Farmers In Eastern Bhutan

The Agriculture Research and Development Centre’s Deputy Chief Horticulture Officer, Sonam Gyeltshen said that according to an impact...

Dec 13, 2018 22:16

Bhutan Expects Record Low Inflation In 2018

The nine-month average inflation rate this year was recorded at 2.61 percent, the lowest figure since 2004.

Dec 09, 2018 11:47

Travel

Lhop Widows From Samtse, Bhutan Keep Their Culture Of ‘Duk Tsho Hang’ Alive

There is a thriving custom among the Lhops – women are not allowed to wear ornaments after their partners die.

Dec 08, 2018 22:08

Bhutan Received 71,417 International Visitors In 2017; Singapore, USA And Japan In Top 10 List

In 2017, Bhutan received 71,417 international visitors and the revenue earned was USD 79m, the highest arrival and revenue since 2012.

Dec 03, 2018 11:25

Lifestyle

‘The Raven Tells A Story’ – Book Dedicated To Bhutan’s 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck Launched

The book was written by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck.

Dec 17, 2018 15:47

Bhutanese Who Has Worked In New York And Singapore, Sells Artisanal Bread Via Instagram

Jamsel Tshering Gyaltshen decided to choose a future in the food industry after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New...

Dec 16, 2018 07:45

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!