NEWS

Let’s Make A Responsible Stand

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the FBC TV programme, 4 The Record.   I want to start by saying that social media is here
21 Nov 2016 11:00
Let’s Make A Responsible Stand
Social Media

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the FBC TV programme, 4 The Record.

 

I want to start by saying that social media is here to stay. It’s a convenient forum where people can interact, share ideas and feelings.

At the same time, concern has grown to worry about the standard of stuff that is shared or exchanged on social media.

Some people think social media gives them the open licence to say whatever they want irrespective of the consequences. The sad thing about all this is that it seems no one can do anything about it.

At the moment anything goes. There is no legal, moral or ethical standard.

Personal attacks on individuals in a bid to defame or cast aspersions on people’s characters keeps growing because the perpetrators know that they can get away with it.

The culprits either live here and operate from a fake Facebook account or they reside overseas where they feel untouchable and the long arm of the law cannot reach them.

One recent case was when someone had created a fake twitter account using the Prime Minister’s name and sent a derogatory remark against another prominent person. Unfortunately it was picked up by an overseas media and used in a news item.

Then we have a few who reside overseas, mostly anti-government propagandists, who are engaged in a regular dose of diatribe, spewing their venom on people, organisations and religions, whatever fits into their political agenda.

Their scant regard for human decency, dignity and the sanctity of life is a cause for alarm and concern.

They incite communal antagonism, stir up religious contentions and forment revolt and seditious activities.

How do we rein them in and hold them accountable to the law? All these utterances breach the law.

It is time that we apply the law and see what happens. There is a case before the court on this issue. Hopefully, the outcome will set a precedent for future action on this subject.

For those who live overseas and take pot shots at people here they should be held accountable one way or the other. We should use our diplomatic connections to get these people to answer for their actions.

This is the big challenge we now face about social media.

How do we regulate it to ensure that we cut out all the garbage and engage in civil, and constructive discussions on important issues in public discourses?

The words control and regulate usually attract the wrath of civil libertarians and advocates of political correctness.

They quickly refer to it as a threat to free speech and expression.

Freedom of expression comes with responsibility. There is no such a thing as absolute freedom. If that was not true, there will be no law.

We will be free to say and do whatever we want and be prepared to face the consequences from those we have wronged or offended. It will be back to jungle law where the fittest survive.

As legal experts look for a solution, I would like to make it clear that I am not trying to demonise social media. It is an important tool for communication and doing business. It is crucial that we know how to use it for positive outcomes.

Prior to the advent of internet the adage was “Think before you act.” Now it is “Think before you upload, think before you tweet.”

One of the defences we have is to educate our children on the proper use of internet or social media. Things that are posted online can stay in the system for a very long time.

Children should be taught the dangers of social media if it is not handled properly. They should also learn its advantages.

Their internet activities should also be monitored and supervised to ensure they don’t stray into areas they are not supposed to go to.

Abuse of social media can lead to risks of cyberbullying, intrusion of privacy, detraction from meaningful relationships and distractions in social situations.

At the moment we cannot control what others say but we can control what we say. And if more of us are doing it, it’s a major step forward.

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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