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The social media challenge

Feb 16,2019 - Last updated at Feb 16,2019

The way social media has dealt with the infamous “tobacco factory case” over the past few days raised eyebrows among many people within and outside the government circles.

In a vain attempt to dramatise the case beyond the bounds of reason and honest reporting in order to drive home a message that is alien to the truth, social media has turned itself into a feared mechanism bent on spreading grossly doctored, or worse still, plainly falsified “news”.

While there is a widespread interest and concern about the unfolding story of the years-long corruption problem, no one in their right mind seeks “stories” or makes up falsehoods about people in high places, or otherwise, accused of being parties to the huge corruption case.

At the end of the day, the cigarette graft saga was blown way out of proportion by social media to the extent that people in and outside the country became victims of vilified campaigns to distort the corruption case. Even honest or well-intentioned people were also not immune to the fabricated description of the making of the major corruption case and became slaves to the criminally manipulated rendition of the cigarette case.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that there is now a pressing need to control what social media dishes out as “news”, without suffocating freedom of the press or freedom of thought. Freedom of thought is normally a self-regulating phenomenon, however, when it begins to purposely wreak havoc with the spread of honest and true information about national issues, then the time has come to find a mechanism to put some reasonable reign on the abuse of the right of social media to print news in the most correct and responsible manner.

What that national mechanism for controlling social media could be requires a correct reading of international norms by a group of experts carefully selected for this purpose, to draw up its mandate and design lawful tools to bring social media into line.

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