Abuse of social media a serious cause for concern
THE digital age, no doubt, has transformed our lives and made it easier for people to communicate and resolve problems that in the past seemed virtually impossible to overcome. The advent of the internet has revolutionalised the way we do things and ensured that we communicate in real time and conduct our businesses in a more efficient manner.
Advances in technology have meant that we now have smartphones that can be used for all manner of transactions, be it banking, email, browsing the internet, research and sending/receiving money. While these advances have brought positive improvements to people’s lives, there is also a downside to their advent. There is an increase in internet banking fraud with criminals taking advantage of loopholes in the system to con people of their hard earned cash.
Cases abound of unsuspecting people falling prey to fraudsters who use money transfer platforms such as Ecocash to swindle innocent people of their money. We aver, however, from the outset that technological advancement is an extremely good thing because it adds value to our lives if used in the right manner.
Our concern stems from the abuse of technology to advance devious causes and criminal behaviour. We refer here to the use of social media to perpetuate immorality and erode the values and ethos that have from time immemorial held society together. Smartphones have spawned citizen journalism which is often practised without due regard for the ethics of the noble profession.
Anyone with access to a smartphone can broadcast or spread information through such platforms as WhatsApp, Snap Chat or Instagram to as many as possible. There have been instances of videos/pictures shot in the privacy of couples’ bedrooms finding their way onto the public domain through WhatsApp groups often without the knowledge or consent of both parties.
The shame and anguish wrought on either party is unimaginable and the loss of dignity irreparable. It is debatable whether the videos/pictures should have been shot in the first place but the practice of disseminating such material should be outlawed. There have been numerous cases of revenge pornography where jilted lovers deliberately leak pictures or videos of their former partners to spite them.
This is despicable and we condemn the practice in the strongest terms. Everyone deserves their right to privacy. On the other hand, there has been a proliferation of videos of tragic incidences shot by citizen journalists who are often first on the scene of these catastrophes. Accident victims should be treated with dignity not paraded on social media for voyeuristic predators to satisfy their depraved lust for calamity.
What is enjoyable about watching a video of horrific images of limbless victims of accidents? To add insult to injury, the very same people who record these sickening images don’t lift a finger to assist the injured because they would be busy looking for the best shot. Is this what society has become? Have we become as vile and heartless as to feel no pain at the sight of a fellow human being in great discomfort?
Yesterday, we published on our front page, two harrowing stories which best illustrate the depths of depravity in Zimbabwe. Our lead story was of two Bulawayo women who went berserk and walked around completely naked following a ritual.
These poor souls had engaged in some ritual with a traditional healer which went horribly wrong resulting in them behaving in a bizarre manner.
Residents of Waterford compound had to call the police after they failed to control the two, who together with their children, were completely naked and out of control.
Their pictures and videos went viral within minutes and their dignity and right to privacy were violated. In the second article, we reported on a video, also circulating on social media, showing the last moments of a Gweru socialite appearing to be in great pain on his deathbed at Gweru Provincial Hospital following a road accident.
The socialite and popular car dealer in the city, Alistair Shingirai Mukosera (30), succumbed to injuries he sustained when the car he was driving hit a pothole before overturning and rolling several times on Monday night. In the video that is being circulated on WhatsApp, Alistair is seen struggling to breathe and in great pain while lying on the hospital bed.
The person taking the video is heard telling the other person identified as T1 to hold him so that he doesn’t fall from the bed. “Alistair, dzikama (be calm) … mubate (hold him) T1,” orders an unidentified person to a groaning Alistair and T1 before the video is cut.
We find the behaviour of the people who took the video to be unacceptable and in bad taste considering that their friend was dying. That they chose to film the last moments of their friend simply to post it on social media shows that they are callous and inhumane. Their antics are abhorrent and despicable.