Monday 30 July 2012

Develop netiquette code, MICA Minister urges netizens

By Sharon See, Channel NewsAsia, 28 Jul 2012

Information, Communications and the Arts Minister, Yaacob Ibrahim, urged all netizens to come together to develop an internet code of conduct.

He said a code of conduct is meant to encourage civilised behaviour online.

He also noted that unless there is a code of conduct, when something goes wrong there will be people asking the government to do something about it.

Dr Yaacob said this is worse because having laws would stifle the internet.

He added that a code of conduct would set the parameters for an honest, constructive and rational discussion.

"If you think let's say a certain minister is lousy, that's an opinion, we won't go after you.

"But if you say the minister is corrupt, you must back that with facts because that's an accusation, that's an allegation.

"If you tell me I'm corrupt, I will tell you to justify it, if not I'll see you in court. How then can you say the same thing in the internet and get away with it? Cannot be. It's simple logic. But again, we're not interested in building this code of conduct from the top and then enforce it down.

"We believe as netizens, all of us should come together and develop a code of conduct or what we call netiquette that we can all agree upon. It is supposed to be a bottom up process."

The discussion centred around racial and religious harmony on social media.

Some students asked how they can respond to or stop racism while others asked for the minister's opinion on how to better integrate foreigners into Singapore's society.

How do you deal with racist Web posts?
By Maria Almenoar, The Straits Times, 29 Jul 2012

The issue of how to deal with racist comments online was among the questions raised by students at a conference yesterday to discuss racial harmony and the role of social media.

More than 800 students from secondary schools, junior colleges, international schools and madrasahs attended the HarmonyWorks! event organised by, a national body that champions racial-harmony initiatives.

A four-member panel - comprising Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim, Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Zainudin Nordin, Nominated MP Eugene Tan and Mr Kelly Choo, co-founder of online branding company Brandtology - fielded questions from the students.

They asked for pointers on how to respond to racist comments online and whether a code of conduct on the Internet was feasible.

Recently, there has been a number of cases involving controversial online posts, including that from an overseas scholarship holder studying locally who commented that there were 'more dogs than humans' in Singapore.

In response, Mr Choo said it is better not to add 'fuel to fire' when one disagrees with a racially insensitive post.

'Do not retweet or repost this comment even if you think it is funny because you don't know how it will affect other groups of people.

'If you know the person who posted it personally, send (him) a personal message about it,' he urged.

On the topic of a code of conduct, Dr Yaacob said it is not uncommon for some forums to have one that users follow.

He added that having a code in place is not about enforcement but about a set of rules that users should abide by.

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