Thilanga tells IPU Lankans used social media for change

ThilangaDeputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala says in Sri Lanka, technological innovations have been used as a tool for a change towards democracy.

He says social media networks, through their penetration, have facilitated and spurred citizens to engage in organizing and generating awareness of political mobilization towards democracy, as witnessed during the Presidential and General Elections held this year.

Sumathipala was speaking at the 133rd sessions of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Deputy Speaker said that latest statistics reveal that one in every four Sri Lankans regularly use the internet while Facebook clearly dominates with over 2.5 million accounts as at end of December 2014. In addition, the youth, especially, are predominant users of Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber and Youtube.

“You would be interested to know that of Sri Lanka’s population of over 20 million people, 4.7 million are internet users, 2.8 million are active users of social media, there are 27.4 million mobile connections which show that there is a very large percentage of the population having more than one connection. In addition, 2.2 million people are active social mobile users,” he said.

However he said that one must also bear in mind not only the good side of social media – it also has a bad and an ugly side to it – as witnessed globally – the use of bad language, promoting extremism and violence, exposure to pornography, among other negative practices.

“As we are aware, the law is locked in a struggle to reconcile privacy, individual freedoms and free speech within a democratic frame-work,” he said.

He says Governments should enforce legislation keeping in mind the rate in which technology keeps evolving. Blocking sites or imposing censorships are deemed to be counter-productive; on the other hand, we need to enhance our efforts to educate the people and moot literacy. (Colombo Gazette)


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