Why Nigeria Needs Social Media Bill To Curb Irresponsible Journalism

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Can you imagine someone took his time to write this? Lol, people that should have been voted out with PDP. 
Article written by Tony Ogunlowo
This article is not going to win me any new friends –
especially in the blogging community – but in the spirit of democracy I believe
a bill to curb the irresponsibility of some bloggers and social media users is
necessary after all.
In a country that’s just getting to grips with the concept
of free speech, many see this proposed bill as an attempt to gag free speech as
the incumbent President did in 1984 with his infamous Decree 4.
  
I don’t think it’s the intention of the sponsors of the
social media bill to return to the throwback days of controlled press and free
speech but to police it, weeding out what I would refer to as rogue bloggers,
for instance, who publish, sometimes, malicious lies about people and the
government.

     
Blogging , tweeting and commenting on the various social
media sites has become a new way for the ordinary person, in the street, to
share their opinion about anything with anybody out there in the vast online
community without fear of restriction or persecution. But there needs to be
checks and balances.
     
The wanton spread of malicious lies, rumours or hearsay is
punishable by law in all countries around the world.
     
As a blogger myself I have a moral responsibility to ensure
that whatever information I share with my readers – on Facebook, blogs, twitter
etc – is the truth. It would be irresponsible, for instance, to post an article
or link suggesting the government was planning to do something they were not or
post lies. In the dangerous world we live in today that can lead to mass civil
unrest.
    
There are a lot people who use the social media platforms
responsibly and some who don’t – these are the ones the bill is aimed at.
        
Even though its and unwritten rule, bloggers for instance
are bound by the same code of conduct as journalists – stories need to be
researched properly and only the truth, not rumours or lies , can be published
or posted.
        
Most bloggers have a subscriber base that runs into hundreds
of thousands, and if they’re in the league of Perez Hilton or the Kardashians
that figure can run into millions and millions – more than the circulation of
most regional newspapers – and an incorrect story, rumour or lie will go out to
all of them causing untold embarrassment to an individual concerned. Now if a
journalist, OAP or newscaster spreads a false story the latter could be sued
for libel or defamation of character. It shouldn’t be any different for
somebody who posts something on any of the social media platforms. You can’t
have one rule for one and one for another.
       
Anyone, bloggers included, have to take full responsibility
for whatever they publish or post online. You can’t go round slandering,
spreading malicious rumours or lies about someone or the government and expect
to get away with it!
 In light of this
let’s take a look at some  recent
litigation concerning some rogue social media users from around the world:
–          Under
section 127 of  the Communications Act of
2003 of the United Kingdom 1,209 people in 2014 were convicted for sending
indecent, offensive or obscene messages.
–          In April
2014 a Dutch girl was arrested for 
joking about hijacking a plane on twitter.
–          Wrestler
Hulk Hogan was fired by the WWE over an N-word rant on twitter.
–          In 2011
Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan of the UK were both jailed for 4
years after creating a Facebook event encouraging a riot.
–          In 2013
Yang Xiuyu was arrested by Chinese authorities for spreading rumours online.

So bloggers and social media posters get your stories right!
Only publish what is the verifiable truth – not rumours or hearsay – because if
this bill goes through, a spell in Kirikiri prison or a hefty fine is not an
interesting prospect!  

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