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Editorial, SunVoice

Cyber Bullies Should Not Be Allowed To Use The Freedom Card To Attack Innocent People With Impunity

Cyber Bullies Should Not Be Allowed To Use The Freedom Card To Attack Innocent People With Impunity
Veresa Sokosoko.
August 13
12:25 2018


The uploading of graphic photos from the horrific fatal Nabou multiple vehicle collision onto social media has triggered a new debate on social media ethics and moral implications.

Families of victims whose photos were uploaded have expressed their disgust against such acts.

They are supported by many people who vented their anger against student Veresa Sokosoko who said he was falsely accused of looting the victims.

He has now come out and told the Fiji Sun that he came across the accident and went to help comfort the victims and retrieve their belongings before handing them over to Police. He was photographed doing this and accused of stealing from the victims.

Without checking with him, the person responsible uploaded the photos on social media and vilified him.

It started a frenzy from keyboard warriors who attacked him and his family and hung them out to dry.

The experience has left him and his family traumatised. The question is: Will the person responsible be held accountable and made to pay for the psychological trauma that Sokosoko and his family suffered?

It once again highlights the need for some form of law to protect people like Sokosoko and his family.

Parliament recently passed the Online Safety Act.

It is a commitment to ensure harmful online behaviour such as cyber bullying, cyber stalking, internet trolling and exposure to offensive or harmful content, particularly in respect of children was clamped.

It provides specific avenue, which individuals, parents, legal guardians or representatives of victims can take to have their concerns dealt with.

It refers to intimate video recordings, especially of women, which are later used to bully them.

These women and young girls can take their issue up with the Online and Safety Commission, which will look into the matter on their behalf.

These victims will be able to seek advice from the Online Safety Commission or Commissioner who will also investigate complaints and seek to resolve such complaints.

We also hope that the commission can also accept to investigate cases like the Sokosoko incident.

These cyber bullies should not be allowed to use the freedom card to attack innocent people with impunity.

What if Sokosoko was your brother, father, cousin or friend? Would you do the same thing against him? Of course not. You would feel for him and support him. The Online Safety Act should be expanded to cover for all kinds of online complaints.

Freedom must come with responsibility to protect the weak and vulnerable.

Some Opposition politicians argue that the new law will curtail freedom saying that people were turning to social media out of frustration because their voices are not being heard.

That would only be true if what they are saying is true.

The Sokosoko saga is part of fake news that dominates the social media landscape. Sadly it is exploited by politicians to spread their propaganda.

That’s why they do not want any form of control to hold offenders who abuse it accountable.

If they tried to do it in the mainstream media they would not be able to because they would be scrutinised for accuracy, facts and legal reasons. All these checks and balance are there to protect the people, the vulnerable people.

For this reason, the mainstream media observes the Media Code of Ethics and Practice.

The code says “publication, whether electronic or traditional, or broadcasting, of information, including pictures, about the private lives or concerns of individuals without their consent is acceptable only if a legitimate public interest outweighs their normal rights to privacy.

“The public interest must be serious and proper public interest and not mere curiosity. One of the key elements is preventing the public from being seriously misled on an important matter….”.

If we apply this principle to social media then the original Sokosoko post was wrong on all counts and the perpetrator should be pinged.

We hope that one day the perpetrator and others like him are hauled in to face justice.




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