Live-streaming is a feature available on various social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, used for one to broadcast in real time. Unlike videos that can be uploaded on social media accounts which is pre-recorded and can be edited before being published, live-streaming showcases the raw footage of an event which is aired simultaneously as it is being recorded.
During my stint in corporate communications, the department often utilised live-streaming to broadcast press conferences, speeches and important events. I have seen a lot of social media influencers voicing their opinions via live-streaming. It provides a no-holds-barred platform for people to share anything from their mundane daily activities to concerts they attended, cooking experiments and exercise regime. Beauty product and make up aficionados, usually share the process of dolling up themselves. Popular image consultants discuss about communication skills and personal branding. Politicians use it as a platform to conduct live question and answer sessions with their followers.
There are also technology savvy lecturers who conduct their lecture via live-stream, when they are away for conferences or research field work. The nifty feature, creates an opportunity for people to easily communicate in real time with their thousands of followers. In addition, it is also a cost effective option for one to create visibility and awareness on an issue, a particular brand or champion a belief.
However, the recent live-streaming of the Christchurch shootings is an example of how technology can be easily misused and manipulated. In the words of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during that country’s parliament sitting last Tuesday, “There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new”.
The social media has enabled everyone to be media producers and disseminate their creative content across the world. A media producer, nowadays, is an everyday person, like you and me. They don’t necessarily have to be financially sound or have a crew of cameraman, soundman and editor. The mere act of updating your status on Facebook or sharing pictures on Instagram are examples of how almost everybody with a social media account are acting as media producers. Yes, there may be rules and regulations when uploading videos, text or pictures online, but when one streams live, it is quite difficult for lawmakers to monitor what is being aired.
The killer’s decision to use social media to broadcast his attacks shows how crucial it is to inculcate good media habits in our society in order to produce responsible media producers. It is increasingly important to create awareness on how to be responsible social media users.
As a media scholar, I would like to see media literacy embedded into our education curriculum. This is simply because, being media literate does not merely mean that one becomes critical and discerning when engaged with the media. It also underlines how to be responsible media producers when sharing our thoughts, videos or other creative content.
Knowledge in media literacy also teaches what one can do when they come across contents which are dangerous, inappropriate, threatening or provocative. In a delphi (a forecasting process framework based on the results of several rounds of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts) study a few Malaysian researchers and I conducted, it was discovered that a local media literacy curriculum should touch on communicator’s rights and responsibility, in order to create a responsible media content.
This is important, especially in Malaysia’s culturally and religiously sensitive environment, to pave the way for mutual respect, understanding and peace.
The writer, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, hopes to create awareness on the importance of being media literate.
Published in: New Straits Times, Saturday 23 March 2019