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Khmer Rouge Documentation Center Turns to Facebook

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), at his office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 08th, 2016. (Neou Vannarin/VOA Khmer)

Two Facebook pages, one for the Sleuk Rith Institute and a Khmer Rouge history website, were created early this year.

Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), is too busy to use Facebook.

But owning to the rising popularity of the social network in Cambodia he has now launched Facebook pages for the organization.

Two Facebook pages, one for the Sleuk Rith Institute and a Khmer Rouge history website, were created early this year.

“I see more positive uses on Facebook unlike before,” said Youk Chhang, who has spent more than 30 years collecting documents about the Khmer Rouge.

“Before we did not have a Facebook page since I thought our work was related to researching, reading and analyzing original and historical documents,” he said.

Three or four years later, he thinks that Facebook users have become more considerate. “Previously, the emergence of this technology resulted in more negative than positive points, and Cambodia was seriously affected by this technology,” he said.

Founded in February 2004, Facebook now boasts 1.8 billion users, drawing some 4 million Cambodian users, especially young people.

Youk said that his center’s Facebook page would become a site for public comments over the designs of $50 million Sleuk Rith Institute – a new institution and genocide memorial.

The Khmer Rouge history page has been made to fit with all types of social media which Youk said will be easy for Cambodian youth to use their smartphones to search for documents.

Cambodia’s major news outlets use social media, especially Facebook, to share news to the readers.

Cambodian journalists follow politicians’ pages and government institutions to get updated information.

Several Cambodian politicians have also set up their own pages to share information about their opinions, speeches and activities.

Prime Ministry Hun Sen’s page has more than 6.8 million likes, while his political opponent, Sam Rainsy, currently has more than 3.6 million likes.

Keo Kounila, a media consultant and owner of Digital Marketing Company sees a lot of “improved uses” of Facebook in terms of its ethical use, respect for privacy and a greater understanding of its dangers.

“Therefore, private companies, NGOs and government institutions should continue using Facebook pages and other social media to get comments from users, criticism from citizens to make improved relations,” she said.

The internet has surpassed television as the most important source of news in Cambodia, according to a study by the Asia Foundation released in late 2016.

The study said Facebook was the most important website through which Cambodians access information.

Noan Sereiboth, 27, an active Facebook user, said that Facebook helps connect politicians and their supporters.

“It provides a big space for politicians to deliver their messages to their supporters,” said Sereiboth, who has used Facebook for more than 5 years.

As a responsible user, he is also cautious about “fake news” and recommends not using Facebook to attack each other.

“One more thing, people curse each other and use bad words and defame each other. It has a big impact on morality and reputation in society,” he said.

Youk is more concerned about the impact of Facebook on teenagers, warning parents to be careful with children using Facebook at a young age.

“It is the duty of parents to advise children on using Facebook,” he said.