Editorial

April 9, 2024

Hard lessons for social media trollers

‘Three years in prison’: Amnesty International condemns proposed social media regulation

The situation that is unfolding around some frontline gospel music artistes and some bloggers will help  teach people useful lessons about the sensitivity of social media engagement.

Due to the Information and Computer Technology, ICT, age we are in, millions of people have capitalised on the allures and money-making potentials of social media applications, such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, WhatsApp, You Tube, Tiktok and others, to engage in blogging and content creation, often with reckless abandon.

These apps are very easy to set up and operate. With them, a person can shoot from total obscurity to become an “influencer”, with thousands of followers. Some have achieved fame and fortune with it. Unfortunately, many who are involved in this do not know the serious implications that lie in wait.

Already, a controversial social media review of a product of a tomato brand by blogger, Chioma Egodi, is in court. If found guilty, the blogger risks a jail sentence. Also, gospel music superstar, Mercy Chinwo, who is married to a preacher and IT icon, Blessed Uzochikwa, recently “unveiled” their three month-old son, Charis Nduka Blessed.

A firestorm of controversy ensued, with some bloggers insinuating that the baby closely resembled another popular gospel singer, Nathaniel Bassey. Some recklessly speculated that Chinwo and Bassey must have been involved in an extra-marital affair, urging Chinwo’s husband to demand a DNA test.

Some of the bloggers and commentators went as far as calling the poor, innocent baby derogatory names. This unfortunate episode had the evil implications of destroying the reputations of people who devoted their lives and talents to the service of God and unsettling the marital unions of both Chinwo and Blessed, as well as Bassey and his spouse.

Bassey has isolated four of the bloggers for legal actions. Though Blessed has made a video profusely affirming his love and confidence in his wife, they are under pressure by their sympathisers to consider court action.

The number one lesson here is that the social media is a minefield. Handle with care or face drastic consequences. The social media never forgets, and infractions can be actioned at any time. Also, apologies only further firm up the cases of those who are determined to sue or pursue justice.

The social media is still media. It is free for all, but that is where the danger is. Any moral or legal infraction leaves the poster vulnerable. People involved must understand the basics of the laws and ethnics of journalism to know where to draw the line when it comes to messing with people’s reputation, privacies and rights.

Bassey’s legal redress and widespread censures by the right thinking people on the social media which forced some of the bloggers to apologise also show we have enough legal and moral restraints to check social media excesses.