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 Daily Bhutan)

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

Largely Funded By The Asian Development Bank, Bhutan’s First...

The Asian Development Bank funded 81 percent of the total budget as grant while the Bhutanese government funded the...

Feb 15, 2019 11:35

Highlights Of The Year Long Bhutan-India Golden Jubilee...

“The events reminded us how deep our economic, spiritual and cultural links are,” said the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan,...

Feb 09, 2019 19:07

Enter The Year Of The Female Earth Hog – Bhutan Looks To The...

As a new year begins, Bhutan evaluates the major events and milestones that marked 2018, in order to forge ahead.

Feb 07, 2019 17:42

Latest

News

Largely Funded By The Asian Development Bank, Bhutan’s First Mini-Dry Port Is Now Completed

The Asian Development Bank funded 81 percent of the total budget as grant while the Bhutanese government funded the rest.

Feb 15, 2019 11:35

Highlights Of The Year Long Bhutan-India Golden Jubilee Celebrations Which Wrapped Up On 8 Feb 2019

“The events reminded us how deep our economic, spiritual and cultural links are,” said the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Jaideep Sarkar.

Feb 09, 2019 19:07

Features

One Third Of The Hindu Kush Himalayan Glaciers Could Melt By End 2100: ICIMOD Study

Bhutan will see a rise in temperature higher than the regional average of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

Feb 13, 2019 17:56

To Eat ‘Snacks Or Snakes?’ Discover The Idiosyncrasies Of Bhutanese English

Bhutanese English differs from standard English not only in terms of its accent and pronunciation but also in the usage of words while...

Feb 12, 2019 18:52

Sports

Bhutan’s HRH Princess Eeuphelma Choden Wangchuck Attended The General Assembly of the Asian Paralympic Committee In Dubai

The General Assembly is the highest decision making body of the Asian Paralympic Movement.

Feb 08, 2019 18:15

9-Year-Old Boy From Bhutan Completes Gruelling Cross-Country Cycling Race

While many thought that the boy would give up after 5 to 6 kilometres, others were concerned that he might get injured.

Feb 01, 2019 16:52

Business

Bhutan Shortlisted As A Finalist For The Intellectual Property (IP) Sharing Project 2019

Bhutan has been selected as one of the four finalists out of 13 countries.

Feb 14, 2019 18:38

Bhutan Records Lowest Inflation Rate In 2018 At 3.13 Percent

For the measurement of the current Consumer Price Index, prices are collected from a sample of 557 outlets.

Feb 11, 2019 18:42

Travel

Revival Of Khurul Lake In Lhamoidzingkha – A Special Lake Where One’s Wishes ‘Can’ Be Fulfilled

Today, the lake is fast becoming a tourist spot for both Bhutanese and tourists from abroad.

Jan 20, 2019 15:47

Here’s What It’s Like Inside Asia’s Best Hotel - COMO Uma Punakha In Bhutan

Luxury resort COMO Uma Punakha was awarded best hotel in Asia and third best hotel in the world, by Conde Nast Traveler's Readers Choice...

Jan 18, 2019 17:05

Lifestyle

Tshering Zangmo Represents Bhutan At The 5th Young Chef Olympiad In India

Tshering Zangmo has successfully made it to round two of the Olympiad.

Feb 04, 2019 16:35

Bhutanese Boyband O'Strangers To Play In Pattaya For 2 Months

They are the first Bhutanese rock band to perform at Hard Rock Cafe Pattaya in Thailand.

Jan 04, 2019 15:13

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!