Minister of Health John Boyce says officials in his ministry are carefully reviewing its use of social media, and he is urging his ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to do the same in the light of what he calls some very “debilitating” posts by unknown bloggers.
While referring to a recent video that went viral following an incident outside the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) over the weekend, Boyce said “it only needs that split second for someone with mal-intention to put abroad some message which fits nowhere near the facts of the story”.
The video to which the minister referred was of a young woman who had fallen ill outside A&E. However, contrary to the impression which was formed by many after viewing the short video, QEH officials have since sought to make it clear that the woman had received prompt medical attention.
In light of that incident, Boyce has also issued a warning to those responsible for making such posts that not only were they “shocking and extremely damaging to innocent persons”, but that they could “certainly throw guilt where there is none whatsoever, and destroy lives forever.
“There have been cases of this kind,” Boyce told members of his Christ Church South constituency branch at the St Lawrence Primary School on Sunday, adding that officials in his ministry had been discussing very seriously a counter strategy that would go beyond health promotion.
“We are asking that unit, in conjunction with any new resources we might acquire, to look at how we can take on some aspects of the new promotional reality, and that is the question of social media. They will be responding at the level of the ministry to some of these things.”
The minister also suggested that the ruling DLP would have to adjust to the new social media reality.
“Of course, as a political organization I think we will also be charged with dealing with that kind of situation, so that we can answer the questions that may from time to time rear their heads in a social media arena,” he said, while stressing the need for the public to get correct information on sensitive matters.
“We have to be extremely careful how we treat this information. If we get this information into the hands of those who want to make mischief, you can imagine the kind of horrors that we could create in Barbados. So every attention will be paid,” he said.