27 January 2021, Wednesday, 10:48
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Social networking sites to be controlled

Social networking sites to be controlled

Lukashenka's ideologists insist on legislative regulation of behaviour on social networking websites.

This initiative was discussed today during an online conference on BelTA website.

Editor of the magazine “Belaruskaya Dumka” Vadzim Hihin, deputy director of Information and Analytical Centre under the aegis of Lukashenka's administration Aliaksei Matsavila, spokesman for the Minsk main police department Aliaksandr Lastouski and spokesman for the Emergency Ministry Vitaly Navitski took part in the conference.

Participants of the discussion spoke about social networking websites and their influence on public. Hihin expressed an opinion that it's time to introduce general rules of using social networking sites in Belarus.

“It's time to introduce some rules, either through legislation or not. They must cover several aspects. Firstly, we need the definition of social networking websites. A programmer knows the difference between a website and an account. But is it described in laws? Secondly, we need rules of conduct on social networking sites for different age and social groups,” Hihin said and gave an example of rules of conduct on social networking sites set up by certain companies for employees. He stressed that “time has come to make general rules in the country”.

Lukashenka's propagandist mentioned legal responsibility as the third aspect.

“I am not saying that we should change our law on the media and other legislative acts that regulate distribution of information, but we need responsibility for information posted on social networking websites,” he said and recalled the precedents relating to information discrediting business reputation and invasion of privacy.

According to Hihin, gossips that people used to write on fences now appear on the internet due to social network websites. If only few people believed rumours earlier, today 8% of people trust bloggers, according to a survey in Russia.

“This is the state and law, company rules, family rules. We apply family rules when we restrict access to these or those sources of information for a child,” he says.

Another participant of the discussion, deputy head of the Information and Analytical Centre Aliaksei Matsavila, agreed with this opinion.

“Content moderation is a necessity. To some extent, it must be a subject of legislative regulation. On the other hand, it must be self-regulation by site owners and internet users. The idea of content moderation is obvious for wise people,” he is confident.

The idea of regulating social networking sites will lead to stricter control over opponents of the regime, journalist and former political prisoner Andrzej Poczobut said to charter97.org.

“Whatever the Belarusian authorities begin to regulate, it, as a rule, provokes new repression and attempts to restrict the freedom of speech. It's clear that we have certain problems relating to responsibility of social networking site users for what they write. But if the authorities try to solve it, it will lead only to political persecution, pressure and restrictions. These initiatives can bring nothing good. They are aimed at restricting discussions on the internet, the platform for free debates on political topics. Traditional media don't give this opportunity. It's clear that the authorities don't win these discussions, so they try to 'regulate' them” he said.

It should be reminded that Lukashenka spoke on several occasions about the threat of the internet to his power. He gave an example of the Arab Spring and a role of social media in the events.