x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Social media regulation will benefit users, says UAE expert

With 41 per cent of residents using social media, government messages are reaching more people than ever before.

Fadi Salem, the director of governance and innovation at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, speaks at the GCC Government Social Media Summit. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Fadi Salem, the director of governance and innovation at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, speaks at the GCC Government Social Media Summit. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Regulation of social media in the government sector is needed to ensure services are delivered in the proper way.

With 41 per cent of residents using social media, government messages are reaching more people than ever before.

Fadi Salem, the director of governance and innovation at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, said the UAE represented one of the highest penetration risks in the region. But there are inherent risks because of the lack of regulation for government entities to use social media.

At the start of this year the UAE became a world leader in smartphone usage with 73.8 per cent of people owning at least one.

“There are no proper guidelines or framework for government entities to use social media, so this enables improper uses and could create reputational risks for entities,” Mr Salem said. “There should be awareness for government and the public – when it comes to privacy especially – and people need to be mindful of this.”

Public benefit outweighs this risk, he said, and government entities should work to mitigate this effect.

“The challenge is that, when you provide services through social media, you need to properly target your messages towards social media users. This will increase the quality of services you can provide,” Mr Salem said.

Despite the rise in people using Facebook and Twitter, there are still many who are not online.

Mr Salem said that more regulation is inevitable and needed. “This will happen not just on a local level but globally. It starts with chaos but more regulation will come and, if this is properly implemented, this will produce better outcomes for everyone.”

Government policy, he said, must be directed towards our mobile lives to make essential services as accessible as possible.

 

ksinclair@thenational.ae