The Internet never sleeps and neither do the social media gaffes ever stop
March 8, 2017
From singling out racist comments and individuals, to the distribution of fake news and alternative facts, 2017 has seen Social Media come under the spotlight. Most recently, Government intends to monitor and control our favourite platforms, leaving the public outraged and questioning their freedom of speech.
Minister of State Security David Mahlobo had said over the weekend that social media could be regulated in future to prevent the spread of fake news. “The false narrative in the social media, it’s one of the challenges that South Africa faces,” said Mahlobo. South Africans were outraged and this sparked the (trending) hashtag #HandsOffSocialMedia. Mahlobo acknowledged that such a move would probably draw a wave of criticism and fears of stifling human rights, but added that “even the best democracies … regulate” social media.
This has obviously led to many individuals questioning our freedom of speech and democracy. Murray Hunter of the local civil rights’ watchdog Right2Know was concerned about Mahlobo’s State Security Agency entering the space of regulating social media. “R2K has already raised concerns that South Africa’s state security structures have abused their surveillance powers and shown a disregard for democratic process.”
Dr Julie Reid, media analyst and UNISA academic, believes “the purpose of a number of recent and forthcoming legislative amendments is to contribute towards a broader architecture of censorship. This includes the Film and Publications Act Amendment Bill, the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill, the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, for example. If all that legislation is implemented, you’re looking at an overarching framework of censorship,
“This is what we have seen happening in Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Egypt and other areas. When governments lose control of their political powers, they clamp down on social media,” says Hunter
However, herein lies an interesting debate – when you look at the damage social media can cause, should there not be more stringent monitoring in place? Think of it… would Trump be the current President of the Free World without his alternative facts? And what about the ANC’s R50-million War Room campaign whose intent was to weaken the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ election campaigns with subversive methods such as putting up fake EFF posters and producing media platforms to air and publish favourable ANC content?
“All it takes is one person to gain media exposure and traction, costing an organization millions in losses. Social Media scandals cost South African businesses in excess of R450 million during 2016 alone”, says Farhad Bhyat Chief Executive Officer of FAROSIAN.
Jenny Reid of iFacts said that whilst she understood the concerns around fake news and the Government wanting to take control of the social media environment, she felt that “the corporate world should embark on training their employees appropriately”. Most of those who contribute to the losses exceeding R450 million do so by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and this is often not done deliberately. iFacts specializes in people risk management and Reid says that “over 80% of companies are using social media to screen for new employees and to discipline employees”.
With over 6000 tweets per second globally, and 5 new Facebook profiles being opened per 10 seconds, the amount of information available is enormous.
So my question to you is, how do you feel about big brother following you?
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ARE YOU ATTENDING THE LAUNCH?
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