Jordan’s Queen Rania has warned that negativity on Facebook and Twitter is spreading onto the streets, causing “substantial danger.”
In an exclusive interview for the March issue of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Queen Rania said social networks had led to the global spread of false stereotypes and divisive discourse.
She told the magazine: “The danger here is substantial … But is even more so when this online debate starts gaining ground offline; when negativity on Facebook or Twitter becomes fodder for negativity on the streets, schools or in conversations with friends and even strangers.”
She added that social media users must think twice before sharing information.
“The repercussions of misusing social media have already permeated our daily lives, and now we are a little in over our heads,” she cautioned.
“Our best bet is not to dial down our use of these platforms, but to become more discerning about what we are exposed to online. If destructive discourse is being brandished around us, we need to question whether it can be validated and think before we share in the conversation.”
Despite her cautionary comments, the royal, who has 10.4 million followers on Twitter, 16m on Facebook and 5.1m on Instagram, is positive that online interaction can ultimately be a force for good.
“The internet has unleashed a lot of potential for a lot of kids and sometimes when I look at YouTube channels or websites that are run by children they’re incredibly inspiring,” said Queen Rania, whose Arabic language online education platform Edraak has reached more than 2.2m registered users since its launch in 2014.
In a wide-ranging interview that included an exclusive 12-page photoshoot with international photographer Alexi Lubomirski, Queen Rania also spoke on the Syrian crisis which has resulted in 1.3 million refugees crossing into Jordan.
She said: “I’m not ready to give up on humanity. Against all the terrible things that we see, there’s incredible goodness in people… Fear is a powerful emotion, and, in today’s uncertain world, it has become a potent political force.”
She added: “People are worried about the economy, social and technological disruptions, violence and terror attacks… They’re worried about their future, and the future of in times of seismic change.
“It is natural to seek comfort in the familiar as people can feel left behind, which creates room for others to capitalise on their unease, and to sow divisions and hatred.”