Friday, August 19, 2011

PM 's National Day Rally speech reactions: Check brutal online chatter more closely

My letter on the above subject is published in The New Paper Today, Friday 19 August 2011, page 26.

Governments all over the world are realising that terrorists are becoming more and more dangerous.

They seek to destroy lives and create havoc in the world.

As technology advances, there emerges another group of people who seem to want to destroy lives - anonymous online users who make insensitive and hurtful comments that hurt innocent people.

During his National Day Rally speech last Sunday the Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong), though acknowledging the importance of healthy debate, was also concerned about insensitive comments made anonymously that could divide society.

 An article, Online Readers Need A Chance To Comment, But Not To Abuse, in the Washington Post, last April, still applies.

The paper's ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote that while online chatter has been typically “rowdy” , postings that are “brutal.. can be unexpected and devastating.

Such insensitive and hurtful comments are also alive on Singapore's discussion boards and blogs .

There is no easy way to stop or confront the person behind these malicious attacks simply because the commenter choose to remain anonymous.

To help stamp out online venom and prevent rowdy commentators from “shooting from the hip”, I suggest the following:

. All discussion boards must be moderated more closely. Harmful or insensitive postings must be rejected.

. Administrators of all online discussion boards should make it a requirement that users register their full name and identity card number before they are allowed to engage in discussions or debates.

. Netizens must also sign a declaration that they will not pass any insensitive, malicious comments or personal attacks on any individual or company.


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