The Internet and social media are among several key driving forces of society which can be double-edged swords, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.
He was speaking at the National Community Engagement Programme dialogue (CEP).
The CEP is a national crisis response network of community, business and youth leaders coordinated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Into its seventh year, the annual CEP dialogue saw the participation of 600 community leaders and several ministers including Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Tan Chuan Jin and Mr Lim Swee Say. Mr Teo outlined three forces that can allow people to find common ground, while at the same time drive people apart: Technology, globalisation and extremism.
On technology, Mr Teo highlighted how the Internet and social media can help bring people together, but it can also disrupt social order and harmony when used maliciously.
He said that while social media can mobilise active citizens for positive change, the Internet and the anonymity it affords can also embolden people and encourage extreme views.
He said: "Anonymity on the Internet emboldens people, encouraging them to take on more extreme views than they might otherwise.