‘Iran Adopting Realistic Approach toward Social Networks’

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Iran’s culture minister says a confrontational approach will be ineffective in dealing with social networks and cyberspace in the country.

Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi Amiri says the government has adopted a realistic approach vis-à-vis cyberspace.

“The Establishment’s approach toward social networks and virtual space is not a passive and confrontational approach, but a realistic one based on management and production of useful content,” said the minister, according to a Farsi report by Entekhab news website.

He said a confrontational approach is a nonstarter and should be avoided as it will bring about “deviation” and a Western-style way of thinking.

“A passive approach, which prescribes submission in dealing with cyberspace, is not effective, either, and we should not pursue this approach,”

He further noted that the exchange of information is unlimited in today’s world, and added in Iran, for example, there are 47 million internet users.

“Currently, there are 800,000 websites as well as 1.5 million channels operating in the cyberspace in the country,” he said.

He noted that all aspects of people’s lives such as culture, politics, the family and other constituents of society have been influenced by cyberspace and social networks, and added the society has a growing tendency to use social networks.

“At the moment, social networks account for the bulk of people’s cultural consumption, which means people and citizens receive their messages from social networks more than before.”

The National Cyberspace Council is monitoring the full extent of social networks’ influence on the society, the culture minister noted.

During the recent presidential election in Iran, for example, between 2.5 and 3 billion messages were exchanged between Iranians each day, he said.

Family members used to spend two hours a day interacting with each other in the past while the figure dropped to around 20 minutes last year, which means social networks have assumed a special position in families.

“The current information revolution puts two paths before us: Either to drown in this sea of information, or to adopt a clear strategy to manage it, and definitely it would be effective and useful to adopt a clear strategy to manage it,” he underlined.

He said family members used to spend around two hours a day talking and interacting with each other in the past while the figure dropped to around 20 minutes last year, which means social networks have assumed a special position in families.

He then pointed out that computer games are all the rage now among children.

“Last year, for example, around 450 billion Tomans (nearly $120 million) worth of computer games were sold in the country, or in 2016, the Clash of Clans game sold $2 billion across the world.”

He said inappropriate cultural consumption will lead to “cultural malnutrition,” which, in turn, will lead to social maladies and cultural challenges.

The minister underlined that social networks influence and change people’s consumption patterns and behaviours as well as type of clothing and makeup.

“These changes will create a new language in the society, and people will have more craving for diversity and pleasures.”

He then said the high rate of use of social networks by children and young adults shows the importance of producing useful content and transferring it to them via virtual space.

Social networks influence people’s consumption patterns and behaviours as well as type of clothing and makeup. These changes will create a new language in the society, and people will have more craving for diversity and pleasures.

The more virtual space is expanded, he said, the more new borders are created, and “we should properly delineate new borders by producing useful content.”

The minister further underlined that the society is moving toward using mobile phones more and more, so much so that a global survey shows all libraries across the world will provide books to their clients on mobile phones by 2020.

Salehi Amiri then said the business of start-ups is booming in Iran, and added many of their directors range in age from 20 to 25, which shows the youths have secured a considerable share of activities in virtual space.

He said the middleman is cut out in most of these projects, which has resulted in over millions of commodities being delivered to households on a daily basis.

The minister added mosques should turn into bases where content is produced for cyberspace.

“Transferring ethical and educational messages to families requires the cooperation of theology schools and universities, and that’s why the theology school [in the city of Qom] should be active in cyberspace more than ever before.”

He further said direct talk and face-to-face conversation cannot be a suitable method to transfer concepts and messages, so different means such as music, plays, painting and films should be used.

He stated that people seriously need to watch films these days, and added subsidizing film-making in the country could increase viewership of locally-produced movies.

Salahi Amiri underlined his ministry has a duty to counter promiscuity and reactionarism. However, he added, blocking cultural and artistic activities will only increase social vice and problems.

He concluded by saying that effective cultural activities require long-term work, and added, “Regarding the hijab issue, for instance, activities should be goal-oriented, logical and in the right path with a long-term look.”

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