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A Reflection On Black Side Of Social Media

Last week I wrote an article on the black side of social media, the use of the internet by people who write blogs that resemble news sites but that have
05 Mar 2016 08:30
A Reflection On Black Side Of Social Media

Last week I wrote an article on the black side of social media, the use of the internet by people who write blogs that resemble news sites but that have a very negative agenda.

They use the sites to denigrate various people in Fiji.

It seems that these bloggers do not allow facts to get in the way of a good story

A number of people generally involved in the tourism industry or closely related areas either emailed me or spoke to me with their comments.

The volume of feedback is the greatest I have ever received from an article. I was surprised at the level of feeling shown by business people on the subject.

I was also surprised that not one person had a negative comment about what I had written, no one challenged me on either my opinion or the facts I had presented.

When I mentioned this to several people they commented that the bloggers probably didn’t read articles in the papers, they were just seeking news they could attack.

That’s fine with me; I am at heart not an aggressive person.

A number of people were angry at the position of the bloggers, not so much because they were attacking people unfairly and using straight lies and innuendo to damage their reputations, but because the misleading stories undermined Fiji as a whole.

I pointed out this was the intention of the blogger, because if the economy, political standing or general respect for the country could be damaged that could be presented as living proof that the crimes the blogger attributed to the people they were targeting existed.

One very senior manager who was daily involved in the land development industry in Fiji said that he had, on a number of occasions, had to address some negative attitudes of investors who had managed to find their way to the sites.

He believed that the bloggers were having some impact on the levels of investment entering the country.

 

Complexity

A number of people said that they could not understand how there was a set of rules that applied to the mainline media that the bloggers were not governed by and were not afraid of.

They commented that MIDA, the media industry’s main controller of ethics and lawful presentation of news and comment,  didn’t seem to have any tools to control a quite large section of the media (the Blogs).

People working in the media industry said they believed the Act that created MIDA did give them enough power, and there was enough support from the community for action against the Blog sites to encourage MIDA, but there was, worldwide, a lack of meaningful solutions.

There was also some comment that people generally didn’t understand how the whole blog system works, how people make money out of publishing a blog or why members of the public use blogs. It is, for most people, a very grey area.

 

Correction misinformation

There were also a number of people who asked why there were no people correcting the information presented on the sites through different blog sites. Good question.

A lot of the blogs are share sites, where it is possible to put up your own information on the subject.

The site I used as an example is one that allows external comment to be posted, but I am told by people who have posted contrary comments that these items that do not agree with the view of the blog or are in any way negative to the standards of the site are very quickly deleted.

It seems that people do post corrections, but these are not deemed acceptable by the bloggers.

 

Only a part of issue

Other feedback, from an expert in Australia, told me that the initial blog site is only a part of the issue.

Like minded individuals take offensive material off a blog and post it to friends, causing a viral spread of the material.

As an example, a beautiful sports journalist in the USA was secretly videoed naked and the result posted on the net, first appearing in 2008.

She is suing the hotel group that allowed a stalker to enter the room next door and take the video.

The stalker was sentenced, went to prison and was released two and a half years later.

But the video is now so widely distributed that an expert with the YSA government communications department says that it is now impossible to get it out of circulation. Ever. That is the power and the problem of the net.

 

Revenge post

Yet another category of the dark use of the internet is the so-called revenge post, where some material gathered in normal life is posted up to vilify a person after the relationship breaks up, typically a female partner in compromising circumstances (usually nude).

This material was collected in happy days with no thought of malice but in the last two or three year the category has exploded, and there is little that can be done to stop it.

Communications experts are also warning about the spread of seemingly harmless apps into the dark side.

Last year a school girl in Lautoka committed suicide after her texts were widely dispersed by bullies at school.

Overall, bullying through the text communication apps is growing rapidly and is becoming a thing for parents to watch out for.

It’s not just the high profiles who are being hurt by malicious internet, the average grass roots people are also now starting to be prey.

 

Best advice

The best advice is to stay away from a malicious blog sites, every time you log on your hit is recorded and you encourage the blogger, making him think that what he says is important.

And never pass a blog on with your equipment; it may just be traced back to you. And then you can be sued.

John Ross is a Nadi-based marketing and advertising specialist with a long background in tourism. For feedback on this article, please email him: johnrossfiji@gmail.com

 

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