MU Director Interviewed on Social Media Ethics

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil weighed in on a hot ethics topic following a Twitter slugfest during which a journalist and an activist carried on battling during a Lebanese TV talk show.

Journalist Ghadi Francis in a controversial tweet described the Syrian city of Douma as “meshwiyyeh” (Arabic for grilled or barbequed) by barrel bombs dropped on it that kill untold numbers of civilians.

Screen shot of Twitter shouting match over Douma

Screen shot of Twitter shouting match over Douma

When her label struck a raw nerve with opponents of the Syrian regime that’s accused of using these weapons, Francis then tweeted “if grilled doesn’t cut it, then it’s ‘maslouqa’ (boiled).”

That prompted activist Sara Assaf to lunge back: “This is what idiotic @ghadifrancis, a ‘journalist’ at @OTVLebanon had to say about #Douma massacre. WLEK TFOUUU (I spit on you).

Enter Paula Yacoubian, host of the political talk show “Inter-Views” on Lebanon’s Future TV, who, also in a tweet, invited both women to further expound on the matter on her program in February 2015.

Asked if there were guidelines to follow in social media under pressures of war and conflict, Abu-Fadil replied: “There are standards. While we have freedom to express ourselves through social media, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a sense of responsibility.”

Paula Yacoubian Inter-Views Magda Abu-Fadil on social media ethics

Paula Yacoubian Inter-Views Magda Abu-Fadil on social media ethics

Abu-Fadil also referred to the five core values of journalism, expounded by Ethical Journalism Network director Aidan White in a video: as accuracy, independence, impartiality, humanity and accountability.

She argued that they apply equally to bloggers, activists and non-journalists using social media.

“What we’re seeing a lot on social media are reflexive answers, where someone tweets something and another person replies reflexively, with no consideration for critical thinking,” she said.

Abu-Fadil added that one has to stop and think about the repercussions of tweets and whether they could cause harm.

“What’s this incredible accomplishment of contributing to hate speech? It’s disgraceful. We’ve reached a level of unprecedented degeneration,” she noted.

MU Media Literacy Features at I.C. Workshop

Should parents or nursery school teachers use an iPad as a pacifier to ease a toddler into school or a playgroup?

How do schools integrate technology, social media and other forms of engagement in their curricula?

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil answered those and other questions at a workshop on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) for schoolteachers at Lebanon’s International College Ain Aar campus.

Abu-Fadil shows video on how iPads affect children

Abu-Fadil shows video on how iPads affect children

She drew on UNESCO’s MIL Curriculum for Teachers that combines two distinct areas – media literacy and information literacy – under one umbrella.

Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers

Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers

Abu-Fadil underscored the importance of digital literacy and deconstructed it during the workshop in May 2014 using case studies and videos to illustrate the point.

She reviewed key competencies needed for MIL such as knowledge and understanding of media and information for democratic discourses and social participation, evaluation of media texts and information sources, and, production and use of media and information.

Teachers at IC's Ain Aar campus learn about media literacy

Teachers at IC’s Ain Aar campus learn about media literacy

The training also centered on how to engage with students in a multimedia environment and across various platforms.

Abu-Fadil demonstrated how social media tools such as Twitter have become an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

MU director conducts workshop on media and information literacy at Lebanon's International College

MU director conducts workshop on media and information literacy at Lebanon’s International College

The discussion also touched on accessing information in an effective and affective way, the importance of critical thinking, and methods of evaluating media-related information.

Abu-Fadil to Journalists: Differentiate Between News and Views

Arab journalists should differentiate between news and views and should not ignore context in their online and traditional outlet stories, said Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil.

She told Morocco’s Al Roaya News young reporters are impatient and often ignore journalism basics like proper sourcing, research and media ethics.

She urged journalists to enroll in training workshops on a regular basis to upgrade and update their knowledge and skills and to fall back on critical thinking in their endeavors.

A [PDF] of the interview is available here.

Social Media & Wars

Social Media & Wars

In another interview, with Lebanon’s daily Annahar, Abu-Fadil described how media disseminated news of the country’s 1975-90 civil war as opposed to the ubiquitous use of social media today that parallel and compete with legacy media in covering local and regional conflicts.

She said journalists should not be misled by incorrect or doctored information from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and should be diligent in checking all sources.

A [PDF] of the interview is available here.

MU Director to Arab Strategy Forum: Social Media Aren’t Just for Kids

Catch the wave and ride it, don’t sink under it, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil told participants at the Arab Strategy Forum 2013 in Dubai.

Arab Strategy Forum 2013 logo

Arab Strategy Forum 2013 logo

“We can’t operate in the media with a Stone Age mentality,” she insisted. “Social media aren’t just for kids.”

To prove the point and debunk traditionalists’ thinking, she spoke, tweeted and shot video during her session on the relationship between Arab media and social networks.

Abu-Fadil speaks, tweets and shoots video at ASF 2013

Abu-Fadil speaks, tweets and shoots video at ASF 2013

She also said there was a lot of useful information online.

But equally important is the ability to use critical thinking to filter through all the disinformation and misleading content, she added.

Arab media and social networks panel

Arab media and social networks panel

The forum, organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), grouped experts from across the Arab world and United States who discussed social networks and knowledge society.

MBRF CEO Sultan Ali Lootah opens ASF 2013

MBRF CEO Sultan Ali Lootah opens ASF 2013

They included Charbel Fakhoury, Microsoft’s vice president for sales and marketing in the Middle East, Mohamed Murad from Google Gulf, Kaveh Gharib from Twitter’s U.S. headquarters and Jonathan Labin from Facebook’s Middle East and Africa arm.

Dubai TV's Zeina Yazigi (right) chairs "Evolution of Social Networks" session

Dubai TV’s Zeina Yazigi (right) chairs “Evolution of Social Networks” session

Also on hand for the two-day forum in March 2013 were Saudi bloggers Molook Al Sheikh and Abdel Aziz Al Shaalan, Bahraini TV host Khaled Al Shaer, and Kuwaiti columnist Meshal Al Nami.

Emirati speakers filled the “Tweet Positively” panel that concentrated on religious aspects and positive values in uses of social networks, as well as individuals’ roles in protecting their nation from harmful media, and how to use Twitter for good causes.

Media covered the event extensively. [“المرأة العربية أكثر نساء العالم تفاعلا على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي – النيلين”] [“موقع جريدة الأنباء – طباعة مقالة”] [دار الخليــــج-أخبار الدار-“المنتدى الاستراتيجي” يحذر الإعلام من عدم مواكبة “شبكات التواصل””]

Arab Women Beat Men on Twitter: Sayyidati

Arab women are making great strides in their use of social media, often outrunning their male counterparts on Twitter, according to studies.

The shift from traditional to digital, social and interactive media is a natural for women, notably in the Arab world where conservative societies have been slow to accept females in high visibility roles, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil said.

“Thanks to such media, you feel women have a presence, are speaking out more, communicating more, interacting more with their societies, and perhaps with people they don’t even know, and have proved themselves,” she told Maysaa Al Amoudi on the Rotana satellite channel show “Sayyidati” (My Lady).

Women have been able to reach far wider audiences than they would through traditional media, she explained, adding that they have to develop by mastering different social media tools and platforms.

Abu-Fadil on “Hewar Al Arab”: Twitter is key

Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil urged critics to reconsider their reluctance to use Twitter and better engage audiences through this social medium, given its growing importance in the Arab world.

She argued in favor of young tweeps and journalists, despite misuses of the platform, adding that Twitter had become a source of news and information that should not be ignored.

Magda Abu-Fadil on "Hewar Al Arab"

Abu-Fadil noted Arab journalists’ increased use of Twitter in the last couple of years but said they were still hesitant to capitalize on it as a news resource.

She said international news organizations had initiated codes of conduct for social media uses in addition to their traditional media guidelines for good journalistic practice.

Her views were aired on Al Arabiya satellite channel’s show “Hewar Al Arab” in an episode dedicated to “Twitter Communities.”

The program, hosted by Muntaha Al Ramahi, grouped tweeps Abdallah Shaalan and Moulouk Al Sheikh as well as academic Sadek Al Hamami.