A digital Geneva Convention is required to mitigate threats in the cyber domain and set up clear rules of engagement on social media, according to a social media expert.
“I think it is time for a digital Geneva Convention, where we codify the way we interact on social media, to make clear (rules),” Matthias Lufkens, founder and CEO at Geneva-based DigiTips, told Anadolu Agency.
Following an address to international young communicators at the Stratcom Youth summit in the Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Lufkens added that a convention establishing international legal standards will help determine how to interact with each other on digital platforms.
“This doesn’t mean that these rules won’t be broken, but at least we can all agree on a common platform,” he said, underlining the importance of education, especially starting in schools.
He said students should be taught how to use TikTok and what to post on Instagram. They have to ask their friends before posting their photos to prevent bullying, he said.
Social media companies are failing to act on 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them, according to a recent report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).
“There is lots of hatred, Islamophobia, antisemitism, etc. out there: I think the best way to counter that is to tweet positive,” he said.
Regarding Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, he said he has bought one of the most important digital diplomacy platform.
“He has become, through the power of his wealth, a world leader. He has become a world leader on the same level as a president. But Elon Musk wasn’t elected,” he said.
Lufkens underlined the importance of setting up digital embassies in Silicon Valley and making a connection with social media giants, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as their power is equal to a country and over a leader.
Twitter announced on April 25 that it has accepted Musk’s offer to be purchased for $44 billion. In the following three days, Musk sold around $8.5 billion worth of his electric carmaker Tesla’s shares, according to earlier filings.
“Twitter is the social network for digital diplomacy,” he said, adding that 190 out of 193 countries have a presence on Twitter and it is the “most influential network environment.”
There are only three countries, including Laos, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, that have no presence on Twitter, he said.
“The diplomatic discourse has become more aggressive since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Because that was the start of the deterioration of the digital diplomacy relations between Ukraine and Russia, obviously, but then also between the West and Russia,” he added.
Zelenskyy becomes a superstar on social media
When comparing the activities of Russian and Ukrainian presidents on social media, Lufkens said that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have a personal account on any channel.
“There is the Kremlin channel on Twitter. But it only posts official news of his meetings. So on the other side, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become a social media superstar,” he said.
Stressing that the Ukrainian president understands digital communications and carries it out personally, he said he taped a video in front of the presidential palace to say he is there when the war began.
Noting that Zelenskyy is a “very good communicator”, he said there was a new generation of leaders who have grown up with digital media, so they know how to use it. He is the most followed world leader on Telegram, which is widely used in the former republics of the Soviet Union, he said.