Let’s Regulate Social Networks: Foreign Ministry, Editors, “Bloggers” And Others

17.07.2019, Critique

Main interests: blogs, social networks, new media, information security.

Recently, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan made an interesting interpretation connected to the diplomatic interactions in social networks. 

“Being a type of public service related to external security, the MFA employs social media rules of conduct, based on the provisions of the Law on Diplomatic Service and the Code of Ethics of the Diplomat. Some diplomats, regardless of their degree, especially those who prefer to communicate in social networks, have been receiving verbal reprimands for breaking those rules.

The usage of such rules is a common practice in many countries and as a leader on the international scale of digital diplomacy, we are not going to ignore this important factor.

There is zero tolerance for the violation of service regulations in the MFA.”

Undoubtedly, for most of us, diplomatic language mainly has zero content, or at least it is unusual: We love to talk more to the point on social networks, I would say with insults and to get a rise out of people. 

But this statement has interesting points for all of us.

It turns out that the MFA has rules of conduct for social media. How many other public institutions can prove to have such a thing?

I’m not talking about blocking Odnoklassniki at the workplace or prohibiting people from entering social networks in general, but to have specific rules of conduct. For example, what can be done, what cannot, and what is not encouraged?

I suppose that very few state structures have such a thing. And more importantly, even if they do, I’m not sure that the employees are aware of it. 

But, perhaps, there should be such rules. In order for the entire institution to deal with the consequences of one person’s comment for over a week in trying to explain and justify it. 

In order for society to understand and be able to distinguish between the official announcement of an official statement on Facebook and when an employee of the institution is engaging in social media during their free time. Or maybe it is possible to keep the public away from these personal feelings. 

There are many ways of doing it, the most important thing is that they are regulated and work. The MFA, in fact, has it. It remains that the rest of us have the same. 

Let us put aside the state structures. What about the press?

In countries with developed journalism, editors have such clear rules that presupposes that their reporters follow them on social networks. 

These rules are multi-paged documents. And though they are different in one way or another, they repeat the same main idea: A journalist should be impartial, unbiased. And if in the past that was supposed to be clear from their articles, then now it has to be clearly reflected in their social media behavior as well. 

There are many tough regulations in which a journalist can be dismissed from their work simply for liking one politician’s status. Since it already appears that the journalist has political preferences. 

There are more mild approaches.

I do not think that the Armenian public is ready to digest the frigid journalist, who does not comment on anything because they want to be impartial and unbiased in everyone’s eyes. 

Taking into account or southern temperament, it would be more like a mental disorder than a regulation. 

However, let’s agree that a journalist or editor who literally blasphemes any politician or political force with swears cannot be perceived as a journalist in a classical sense. Or editor. A Facebook activist? Sure. Social influencer? Why not? Blogger? Of course. The director of political party pamphlet? Them too.

Editor or journalist? Now it’s suspicious. 

Naturally, many of the things written here would be considered confusing or even stupid to some. And not only the above-mentioned activist-influencer-journalist-editor.

For many, it is not clear why a person should keep their emotions and expressions in on social media. 

Why? Are journalists and editors not people? Don’t they have the right to say “sweet” words? And hence this is the problem I wanted to talk about. 

And so, the MFA has done well. 

Samvel Martirosyan 

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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