Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:23:41 +0000
By Stanley Mwiinga
WELCOME to the era of social media, where news travels faster than air.
Where a single click or wrong posting go viral within seconds.
Remember back in the days when communication was not as it is today; remember those days when paper was one of the most important tools of communication.
We wrote and received letters that we read, re-read, kept and cherished.
I call it the era of patience, and kids of today wouldn’t understand how we waited for days or months to receive a letter or reply from our loved ones.
Information was communicated through regulated mediums such as TV and radio channels and any information that was disseminated was verified and factual.
Today anyone can be a reporter by just creating a Facebook news page, become admin, and start reporting unethically on a platform that has over 2 billion monthly Facebook active users as of June 2017.
Online bullying and defamation is on the rise. People are taking to social media to unleash personal affairs; expose people online through groups such as zed Kaw*l*la and Zed hu**.
We have seen more divorces than any other period in the history of our country.
Could this be the time that Albert Einstein feared when he said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction?
The world will have a generation of idiots.” I call this generation the speedy generation, where speed is everything. Fast communications, fast foods, fast internet, fast cars, fast connectivity and fast everything. Even meetings are done online such as Skype, Whatsapp, webinars and Facebook etc.
We have lost closeness, voice contact and the real communication of conversing and understanding each other’s feelings.
Social media now interrupts our everyday routines. We check it while we eat and while we wait for people to join us to eat.
Look around everywhere and you will see people staring at their small screens. In restaurants you see couples or mothers with their children, families and lovers all staring at their screens.
I am not going to pretend that I don’t enjoy the privilege of social networks or the internet; I bet the Internet or social network is not the problem but we are the problem.
We are using it wrongly despite the fact that it has changed our lives for so many good reasons like faster and cheaper communications with everyone around the world. Companies advertising through such mediums and more people making tons of money from Social Media. There is also a lot of wrong doing that has changed the image of social networks.
Do we even know the purpose of social networks? According to Wikipedia, a social network is used for people to get to know each other more and create new friends and connections.
Social networks connect people with the same interests like football, schools, dogs and friends.
Social networks are also used to share things with other people online. But what are we seeing today? There is a lot of cyber bullying, defamation, and swindling.
There is a lot of bullying going around especially in schools. Cyber bullying is defined as the use of digital-communication tools such as the internet and cell phones to make another person feel angry, sad, or scared.
An Intentional act or behaviour that is carried out by a group or an individual repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.
Cyber bullying includes sending hurtful texts or instant messages, posting embarrassing photos or video on social media such as Zed Kawa*l*la, and spreading mean rumours online or with cell phones.
This can undoubtedly affect a person’s self-esteem because other people are innocent. What most people do not know is that if they reported such cases more often, we would have less acts of cyber bullying because most people would know that it is wrong but because few people report such cases, we have more perpetrators.
As parents, you have to be concerned over your child’s demeanour, if you notice changed behaviour in your child’s energy or enthusiasm, find out from them because they could be victims of cyber bullying.
Always educate internet etiquettes to your children and that they should report cyber bullying acts to you the parent, teacher or friends because if they don’t, it can affect their self-esteem and performance at school
If you are a victim of cyber bullying, make sure you first of all take online screenshots for evidence in case someone deletes the post then call Zambian Police on 999 or Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) on 7070 or Child line/lifeline on 116
We are currently running a programme called “Educating the Nation” and if you run a school and would want your school children to be educated about online safety and cyber bullying, you can call/text or Whatsapp on this number 0977-258265.
According to the Legal dictionary, defamation is any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person. Defamation may be a criminal or civil charge.
It encompasses both written statements, known as libel, and spoken statements called slander.
Lately, we have seen a lot of defamation cases online and it’s on the rise due to communication of false statements.
This tort can result in a lawsuit for damages as long as there is evidence of the defamatory statement.
If intentional malice can be proven, then the act usually qualifies as defamation for damage to one’s reputation.
Imagine how low you have to be to criticise someone who sometimes you don’t even know personally. But this happens every day!
Not long ago, ZICTA welcomed the conviction of Dr. Kwalela Kafunya who was sentenced to three years imprisonment by the Mongu Magistrate Court for not only propagating inappropriate content and threatening murder on social media against a fellow doctor, but also defaming the Head of State.
He was apprehended last year by Zambia Police Service.
Dr Kafunya had impersonated his colleague giving the public the impression that his colleague was the one who issued the defaming statements and other inappropriate contents against the Head of State.
Again, last month, ZICTA issued another statement through their Facebook page and other media platforms that it remains committed to collaborative activities with key cross-sectoral stakeholders to ensure a safe and secure ICT sector in Zambia.
The ZICTA stated that propagators of falsehoods, hate speech, cyber bullying and inappropriate content on social media are subject to criminal and/or civil action.
ZICTA urged the public to desist from such vices as these actions are not only a threat to the sector but can pose a threat to national security. They reminded the public that creating, publishing and sharing such content is subject to criminal and/or civil offences therefore propagators of such content can and will be held accountable.
Criminals use social media too. Some criminals break into homes because the victims’ vacation plans where posted on Facebook – making them an attractive target to criminals.
The moment you announce your family’s travel plans, please know that some people on Facebook are there to spy and you don’t know who might visit your home when you are away.
We have a lot of swindlers on social media, please be aware. Sometimes people advertise jobs and scholarships on social media that are not genuine. Make sure you find out more about that international scholarship or job or else you will fall victim to human trafficking.
A lot of people are using social media to swindle people online especially women.
Take for instance the student who was arrested recently by pretending to be a white man and crooked ladies especially married ones, and most married women sent their naked pictures to him which he started using to blackmail them.
It was reported that the male adult identified as Joel Sikaneta aged 24 of Chowa Township in Kabwe swindled about seven females using his nine fake Facebook accounts opened in different names.
He would pretend to be a white man, initiate an intimate relationship with unsuspecting females on Facebook after befriending them and promise to send them money in dollars and buy them cars.
He would begin by sending nude pictures for a white man on pretext that they were his and would later entice women to also send their nude pictures to him.
He would thereafter use another account purporting to be a wife to the white man claiming to have discovered conversations and nude pictures in her husband’s Facebook account.
She would then begin demanding for money from victims and threatening to publish nude pictures if they did not comply. When the victims plead for leniency, the purported wife would link them to either her brother or spiritual father here in Zambia who would give them an account number in which to deposit the money. Several women including married women fell victim and ended up depositing money for fear of being embarrassed.
In closing, I would state that social media is not a very safe place, be careful and whatever you do online, take it that you are live on TV. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want viewers to watch.
For comments and contributions or if you have a question or topic you would like us to cover in this column, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Text or WhatsApp +260977258265.