Experts warn of “crackpot” use of social media

CRAIG  THOMSON

Halal-Australia-Logo-www.foodmag.com.au

Halal Australia Logo, Image: http://www.foodmag.com.au

A prominent social media commentator has said that forums such as Twitter and Facebook can be used inappropriately as a communication tool for “crackpot grievances.”

Radio 2UE social media expert Adam Franklin said that a recent ABC story about a Yogurt company dropping its Halal certification due to a social media backlash may be the case of a few people making a lot of noise.

“I don’t think social media is to blame. In this instance, it is a few people choosing to use social media as a megaphone to voice their fear and interpretation of Islam,” Mr Franklin said.

“It could be the vocal minority making a lot of trouble through social media.”

University of Sydney social media educator Laurel Papworth said other reasons are likely for the withdrawal of the Halal certification.

“From reading the comments on Facebook I think the vitriol from a small group of people in the community is being used to leverage unhappiness with the cost of Halal certification,” she said.

“Comments are split between those who say that the money from Halal certification sponsors terrorism and the ones that say that is racist and disagree with that point of view.”

Ms Papworth said how social media consumers interpret such comments is a matter of personal choice and agreed that users can “tribe up” on contentious social issues.

“This way it can look like a big part of the community is having a say when in actual fact it is not.”

Halal Australia CEO Dr Muhammad Khan said it was unnecessary for the company to give up its certification and therefore potentially harm Australia’s international image.

“The social media posts were simply Islamophobic and bowing to this presents the wrong image of Australia,” he said.

“We need to maintain harmony in Australia for the good of economic growth.

“If companies follow this example then Australia will become economically isolated and overseas countries such as Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates will go to countries like New Zealand to import Halal food.

According to Dr Khan, Australia is one of the biggest suppliers of Halal food to the Islamic world.

 

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