When the Internet is an issue, the media can play a crucial role.
That was the conclusion of an independent report released on Wednesday by the Asia Society, a London-based think tank.
“As the social media industry is a key contributor to the digital economy, it must be part of the solution to tackle the growing digital divide,” said the report, entitled, “Social Media: Where We Are Now”.
The report comes after a series of scandals in the media over the past two years, with allegations of online bullying, sexual harassment and intimidation of women, and threats of violence against journalists.
The report calls for governments and companies to invest more in online security and harassment prevention.
The issue is a hot topic for China’s Communist Party.
In May, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that it had cracked down on “fake news” and “malicious news”, but did not mention social media.
“We must keep in mind that social media platforms are not the only means of spreading misinformation and disinformation,” the ministry said.
“Social media should be treated like any other medium, whether they are owned by a company or a group of people, and should be a place for the citizens to exchange ideas and opinions, share ideas, and make contacts.”
The report said social media should not be treated as a weapon of war, and said the social network companies should be held accountable for the actions of their users.
China’s internet regulator also has proposed a new law on social media to regulate content, with more stringent penalties for “malvertising” and defamation of state media.
The draft law, due to be voted on by the National People’s Congress in October, would also outlaw “extremist” content, such as “virus, spyware, spy software”, as well as the “trolling” of news sites and “deceptive behaviour”.
China has long been criticized for its strict online censorship, including its internet filtering and the blocking of foreign news websites.
In October, the Chinese government said it would ban the “internet’s” most popular social media platform, Weibo, and its most popular messaging app, WeChat, which has more than 50 million users in China.
It also plans to block all Chinese internet service providers and mobile carriers, and to “deter cybercriminals” who seek to disrupt the internet.