Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

GCC sets up watchdog to monitor social media abuse | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55331441

the frontpage of Twitter, a leading Internet microblogging site, on July 20, 2009. (AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE)

File photo showing the front page of social media website Twitter on July 20, 2009. (AFP Photo/Loic Venance)

File photo showing the front page of social media website Twitter on July 20, 2009. (AFP Photo/Loic Venance)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leadership has agreed to form a “working group” to foster coordination in order to address the escalating problems and risks related to incitement and sedition on social media, Bahraini Communications Minister Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The GCC team has concluded a study regarding the problems related to social networking websites and will announce the results of this in the forthcoming period. Service providers have already begun shutting down some accounts on these websites, while judicial procedures are ongoing with other accounts, as a prelude to sentencing,” Sheikh Fawaz said.

“The GCC team will be headed by Mohamed Al Ghanim, director-general of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority,” he added.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone, Sheikh Fawaz expressed his misgivings that social media was being “misused” to incite chaos and sedition within the Gulf. He confirmed that the Gulf working group had already begun coordinating among GCC member states to bring citizens who break the law via social media to arrest and trial.

The working group will seek to build ties between GCC states, as well as between the GCC and global service providers and social media websites, to monitor and address “negative” uses of social media, the Bahraini minister said.

Sheikh Fawaz also told Asharq Al-Awsat that GCC authorities were not seeking to shut down or restrict access to social media websites but only to monitor users, adding that three percent of Twitter users in Bahrain had submitted “abusive” tweets to the social media website and had subsequently stood trial in court.