Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana says social media platforms like Facebook have become more than just a networking site, they are now used for news, marketing and even campaigning.
Speaking at the inaugural Facebook NGO DAY in Sandton, Johannesburg, Kekana said a study had revealed that 18 million South Africans have Facebook accounts.
About 32 percent of South Africans are now active social media users, this is up from 24% (13 million) in 2017. A total of 29.2 million of the population (51%) access the internet on their mobile phones.
Kekana said social media has become an extension of the fourth estate. It has the ability to carry news before it is picked up by the mainstream media.
“We have seen how Facebook has come to fore, during the terrorist attacks in Paris, Facebook mobilised billions of people across the globe to pray for Paris.
“Just like the mainstream media, social media has the power to shape society, to this end it should help us reinforce universal values such gender equality not exacerbate them. It should help entrench dignity not diminish it. Social Media cannot be a bystander or enabler of content which derails social progress,” the Deputy Minister said.
Such platforms can be used to help society expose what is otherwise hidden by closet racists, misogynists, criminals and even abusers.
However, Kekana expressed concern at the misuse social media to abuse other people.
She used the opportunity to mobilise communities to denounce violence against women.
This as government and various social partners will on 10 July 2018 host a national #100MenMarch to stop violence against women and children. The march will draw at least 100 men from various sectors of society, such as government, business, labour, faith-based organisations, non-profit and media organisations to stop the abuse of women and children.
Kekana called on men to rise up to tell other men that violence against women, whether physical or emotional, is unacceptable.
“We call upon men to come in their respective work discipline uniforms with messages against gender-based violence from their respective professions,” she said.
Recent reports indicate that women and children in South Africa continue to bear the brunt of violence and abuse, many at the hand of the men in their lives.
Kekana said she would like to strengthen government’s relationship with Facebook to proactively prohibit disturbing images of child sexual abuse. “We owe this to our children,” she said.
Facebook NGO DAY is an opportunity to hear inspirational examples of successful campaigns implemented by non-governmental organisations through Facebook, as well as the opportunity to network and meet others who are also driving social change in the communities.