The two-day Arab Media Forum that concluded yesterday in Dubai brought forth a host of issues confronting the region as it evolves to be defined by the media and in turn, also defines it. One urgent matter was the onslaught of social media and its sometimes subversive role in influencing young minds, particularly that of women. Many experts and observers at the Forum expressed concern about the growing ability of the virtual world to be dispersive with malintent through the use of insurrectionary messages and exhortations by extremist political groups.

This is a legitimate concern in today’s times, where social media eliminates almost all barriers of privacy and encourages infiltration to the root level of an individual’s thought process and in vulnerable individuals, this can lead to a contaminated mind. While laws and government regulations have a role to play in containing this contagion, what will restore the equilibrium between cyber wars and real-world resolutions for peace is heightened awareness among the youth and women on the machinations of the virtual world. The need of the hour, therefore, is for governments and societies in the Arab world to promote this awareness in order to overcome the cyber world’s uncontested domination.