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Cambodians Urged to Use Care on Social Media Platforms


FILE PHOTO - Senior Cambodian government officers are using their smartphones while awaiting the return of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen from France at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Social media platforms such as Facebook have become popular mediums for Cambodians to criticize authorities and protest against government policy.

Civil society groups have urged Cambodians to use social media to promote good governance and social justice.

Speaking at a panel discussion organized by a group of NGOs on Sunday, Seoung Senkarona, spokesman for local rights group Adhoc, said officials should also be mindful of their use of social media.

“If people can observe [what politicians are doing], they will know the role of authorities like village chiefs and so on,” he said.

He added that a lack of knowledge of how to properly use social media platforms was still a challenge for Cambodians and this lack of understanding could lead to legal issues.

“Online literacy is still an issue for Cambodians, and the government uses the law to take action against them,” he said, “So we should heed information online. If we are unsure about something, we should ask lawyers, human rights advocates, and so on.”

Hok Narin of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media said Internet users should avoid sharing information online that could cause controversy “to avoid risk”.

“We should only share information that is accurate. For instance, from professional institutions,” she added. “We must stay away from rumors. Rumors are dangerous, particularly incitement.”

Social media platforms such as Facebook have become popular mediums for Cambodians to criticize authorities and protest against government policy. Sorn Chey of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability said social media is becoming an important avenue for policymaking in the country.

When security forces attacked protesters in Preah Sihanouk province earlier this year Cambodians took to Facebook to share the criticism of the crackdown.

Senkarona said that while social media should not be silenced, as injustice was “not given much attention” in the country, Cambodians should remain mindful of the potential consequences of using online platforms.

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