Over the past few days, the news of the gruesome murder of Major Mahama has been trending on social media and has received a lot of attention in the traditional media too. Videos of the gruesome act spread like wildfire on social media while radio and TV stations covered the story the best way they could too. Once again, we see technology facilitating the spread of information which drew the much needed attention this story deserves. However, information of such nature is very dangerous in the hands of unqualified and unsupervised citizens of the country. This is why we need censorship and a certain level of control in how this news story is being shared. Notwithstanding, one of the many luxuries that social media affords us is the power to report the news of happenings around us to our online audience; these posts have the potential to reach as many people as traditional media can reach. Many have hailed social media for this reason at the same time others have lambasted users of social media pages for putting out false and fabricated news stories that are sometimes accompanied by graphic images. This is an abuse of social media and it is exactly what happened with the spread of the news of Major Mahama’s death. Let us examine the role technology (social Media) in the spread of the news of Major Mahama’s death.
A few hours after the news broke, videos of the incident began circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp. This made it possible for everyone on any of these social media platforms to have the opportunity of watching the videos. In times past, the mainstream media would have been the main carrier of this story and Ghanaians would not have been privy to graphic images of the brutality the mob meted out to Major Mahama. There were many who were angered by the fact that little or no decorum was exercised while the pictures and videos were being circulated. The news was reported differently on traditional media. Of course it was reported with a high level of seriousness, however these media houses did not include the graphic images and videos. Most traditional media houses exhibited high professionalism by contacting the relevant stakeholders (captain mahama’s Family, Ghana Armed Forces, Security Experts etc.) in the broadcast of the story.
It appears almost impossible for people to choose to offer help rather than take videos and photos to be shared on social media when they chance on such incidents needing immediate medical and security attention. As fate would have it, the very people who committed and witnessed the crime were the same people to offer incriminating evidence which is a priceless material in the hands of the investigators of the case. All what is happening online shows that there is a deeper societal problem: the lack of decorum and sensitivity in the sharing of graphic images online.
Social media made the broadcast of news (text, video and pictures) on the lynching of the late Major widespread and uncontrolled. There was no central point from which news about the mob lynching was coming from. Not only does this cause a distortion of the actual news but it gives room for people to tell blatant lies as to what really transpired. The more diverse stories we have out there the harder the work of the investigators of the case. In such cases one would rather the news was broadcast by the traditional media channels instead of social media. Why? Simply because the traditional media operates under strict laws and supervision from certified government agencies. Therefore to avoid sanctions, such media houses always ensure that the right thing is done. What we saw on social media a few hours and days after the news broke was disheartening and insensitive. The mob is reported to have stripped the soldier naked, lynched him and then attempted to burn him. All this was captured both in photos and videos. Though obviously inappropriate, most social media users went ahead to share these videos and pictures of the late Major. There was little or no caution at all in posting them, whether or not it could have an effect on the family of Major Mahama didn’t matter to such people. This has made it necessary for government to liaise with the National Communication Authority, local Telecom operators, Google and Facebook to remove the graphic materials from the internet.
If there is any sensitive or inappropriate content circulating on social media that you want removed, here are some steps to follow:
- You can ask the person(s) who published the picture to get rid of it.
- Contact the police – especially if you or the person in the picture or video were underage.
- Find as many copies and versions as you can. You are the best person to identify this content.
- Another alternative is to send an email to the particular social media platform, requesting that the picture be removed.
- In case of facebook, you can lodge a complaint using the Facebook Terms Violation Reporting Form.
- If all else fails, you can always pursue legal actions.
Source: dmca.com, anonhq.com