BY INNOCENT ATUGANYIRA AND ALEX AKOL
KAMPALA: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2021
Digital communication-the electronic exchange of texts, photos, videos and voices- is fast becoming the mode of modern communication.
Because of this reality, Marcella Karekye, the special presidential adviser for communication and director for the government citizen interaction centre (GCIC) says digital communication should be used for mindset transformation.
She explains that the use of digital communication has eased exchange of views between the citizens and government as one can easily give or seek information from the government in simpler and quicker way.
“We should change our mindset, and write good about our country, love it in spite of tribe, region or political differences,” Karekye urged.
She said digital channels could also be used to bring what is good from the outside into Uganda.
Social media is one of the most popular forms of digital media in Uganda, but the GCIC director expressed concern over the proliferation of unverified information, negative publicity about Uganda and spreading of content unsuitable to children via the platforms.
“There is helpful information and totally unhelpful information that needs filtering for the consumption of children,” Karekye said as she called for heightened parental responsibility.
She also linked the incidences of suicides among youths to possible exposure to digital and social media which she described as a necessary evil in need of regulation.
“Digital communication has made things easier, however, there is need for the parents to chat with their children on use of digital communication since it’s not supervised,” she advised.
Karekye charged that government has suffered most when it comes to negative media as digital communication has allowed people to contact malign campaigns against the state.
She pointed out lack of engagement with citizens for some of the uninformed posts doing the rounds on social media.
It is this void that the GCIC was created under the ministry of Information, Communications Technology to fill by creating platforms for the citizens to interact with the government.
“People need to verify the content they share on social media, or those who post wrong information should be held accountable,” Karekye advocated.
Dorothy Amolo, the president of queens industry based in United States said she agrees with Karekye, but added that before tackling the issue of digital communication for mindset change, it is better to understand that a person writes or makes a post based from somewhere but he/she should have an element of patriotism.
“My only problem with social media is that people don’t love themselves and their country. There is need for people to acknowledge who they are, be proud of their being. People have their feelings but it’s not necessary that every time you have an opinion you post it on social media,” she said.
Amolo stated that social media has been turned into money making enterprise in which billions of dollars are made daily but it appears for some people to make that money, they must post negative things about Uganda.
The government has had run-ins with digital media channels leading to state authorized internet shut-downs or targeted closure of digital channels.
The latest stand-off sparked by removal of several channels linked to the government or the National Resistance Movement Party by Facebook ended with a ban slapped on that social media channel in the run-up to the general elections, limiting Facebook to be accessible only through virtual private networks.