Mbeki questions Twitter as truth toolComment on this story
Cape Town - South Africa’s former president Thabo Mbeki said on Monday he was sceptical about Twitter being a great conveyor of reliable knowledge.
Mbeki said in response to a question after a speech to the University of Stellenbosch Business School he thought the social media tool was not appropriate for discussing knowledge meant for the betterment of society.
“I am sceptical about this notion of Twitter being that great conveyor instrument for the democratisation of knowledge,” Mbeki said at the start of the school's knowledge conference.
“If you want to discuss knowledge which has got to do with the betterment of society I don't think it is appropriate.
“Even the Internet in general, blogging and so on, is not the place where you can put all these things under theories.”
In his speech, Mbeki questioned whether knowledge had become “less democratised and more compromised” as an instrument for the improvement of society. He said traditional media institutions were unable to control which political rhetoric “caught fire” with the public.
It was difficult investigate claims and counter-claims, he said. The conference should look into how false knowledge was “advanced” by groups with agendas.
He suggested that “false knowledge” was used to remove slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power.
“False knowledge was advanced that the Gaddafi regime was about to slaughter millions of civilians,” Mbeki said.
“This was to justify the imposition of a 'no-fly zone' over Libya which served as a cover to overthrow the Libyan government and impose a regime approved by the Western powers in their interest.”
The Council of Europe had also asserted that “false knowledge” was propagated about a swine flue epidemic in 2009 to benefit highly profitable pharmaceutical companies.
Mbeki said the media remained very influential in South Africa.
“It becomes a very important vehicle for the conveyance of that knowledge,” he said.
“Particularly where readers seem to have sufficient confidence in the media, so they think if it comes from a newspaper it is true.
“Thabo Mbeki stole half a dozen eggs from a supermarket. Therefore... it is true because it comes from the newspaper,” he said. - Sapa
... I would agree on the Twitter aspect - but I think Mr. Mbeki lost it when he included the internet in general and blogs!! Clearly Mr.Mbeki does not make use of internet resources like SQLForums and DOTNETForums or JAVAForums or any science related forums where alot of specialist level knowledge is freely shared by those with a common interest.
Annette Holtzhausen, wrote
I am glad that Mr. Mbeki now joined the majority of twitter users who have known for ages that twitter is not the chat version of an encyclopedia!
Sorry about the previous link. Here is the correct one http:ipan.co.zapodcastsTM_Stellenbosch_USB_Speech.pdf
It would have been better if the author had at least given us a link to Mr Mbeki's entire speech. That way each individual can read the entire speech and contextualise the snippets that have been mentioned above. I feel the author only quoted the issues that may be controversial, taken out of context. I can already see the next headlines..."Mbeki is against Twitter!" Here is the link to the entire speech for those interested http:ipan.co.zapodcastsTM_Stellenbosch_USB_Speech.pdf
i cannot agree more with him on the libya part and the way media is being used this days.HOpe many see it this way as well before its too late. tweeter, face book etc.
Tell me Mr. Mbeki, you vote for the ANC not so? Ok, so then if you vote for a political party who is not a reliable conveyor of information (in fact they're outright liers and criminals), why would you have a problem with twitter in that regard? Your mentallity has me baffled.
Bwah haa ha ha Piet that is brilliant. Mbeki should know that Twitter and newspapers are a place where people have opinions. Opinions can sometimes be based in incorrect knowledge. How different is this from his "knowledge" about HIV?
Zwelakhe, You are right to say that social media is merely a platform through which people can engage in discussions however by nature of these forums it they are susceptible to misuse by those who would like to propagate misinformation. This is largely because nobody is responsible for ensuring that the information being shared in these platforms is truth. Users of these platform then has to be sceptical of the information they learn from these forums, much like news papers in our country of lately. It is thus not an appropriate platform to conduct meaningful discussion as one would be quetioning the authenticity of the information being shared all the time. This is what I understood the former President to be saying I concur.
In part I think I can understand his point
shimie mashabane, wrote
We were told Iraq has weapons of mass distractions,Y did they arrest bin laden without killing him And with Gaddafi were told they have save millions cause he was about to kill millions,So to me Mbeki is right.
Typical, some of comments digress to throw lame punches at Mbeki. How disgusting. I disagree with Mbeki when he refers to the "the internet in general, blogging and so on". However I agree with him on the Twitter. Unless it is used only as a carrier of links when it comes to conveyig knowledge, Twitter is hopeless'
chris machio, wrote
Mr. President, you have erred. Move with the times. Oh, and readers are intelligent: they know when they are being lied to. So, give them some slack.
Well we're not sure that the ANC is a conveyer of reliable information either so what now?
Its for sharing ideas and info quickly and easily. I've never thought of it as a centre for knowledge generation. Then again the protector of dictators wasn't much interested in ideas of others.
Zwelakhe Sithole, wrote
The former president has got it all wrong. Social media is nothing but a platform. On its own, it does not produce content, users do. If you talk about dialog, social media provide a platform to engage in true dialog with the society. An opportunity was missed by Trevor Manual when trying to engage the society when developing his national plan. Instead of using platforms such as twitter and facebook, they created their own platform that was cumbersome and very few people participated. Even then, they never really engaged in true dialong
Oversimplification leads to falsification, Mr. President, Sir. Cry, Beloved sunny South Africa when a president makes such puerile statements.
If what Mr Mbeki is saying about Gaddafi is true, then Africa will be held responsible by history for just standing by as Libya is auctioned away. However, some questions still remain unanswered. Why was there no constitution in Libya but a green book? Why did Gaddafi entrust his son to mobilise the grassroots and not the party machinery. It looks like Gaddafi was a leader waiting to fall anyway. All it took was just the right wind. If not the west, an Arab spring was coming
Piet S. Knott, wrote
And the alternative is of course The world according to the current ruling party?
How ironical when the man says (from his own intelligence) the HIV does not lead to aids. Now he quenstions other peoples theories in discussion forums of one form or another.
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