General News of Saturday, 26 July 2014
Two controversial homemade sex videos which went viral on social media this week have been blocked from being shared on Whatsapp in Ghana alone, Adom News can confirm.
One of the videos allegedly involved the children of two public personalities. The girl involved is said to be 15-years-old.
The videos have been making the rounds the whole week on several social media platforms, including Whatsapp. But throughout Friday, it has been impossible to share the video on Whatsapp alone.
Some phone users suspect the telcos deliberately blocked the videos based on “orders from above”.
Indeed, Adom News’ attention was brought to the matter because an insider at one of the leading telcos in the country called a journalist and said, “we have been instructed to block that sex video” involving the children of the public personalities.
When Adom Newsroom staff tried to share the video on Whatsapp across all the five GSM networks in Ghana, it failed to be shared.
But on reaching the spokespersons of the telcos on phone, they all denied blocking the video on Whatsapp, saying “it is not possible for us to block the sharing of content on Whatsapp.”
One explained that it was possible someone with vested interest reported the sharing of that particular video directly to the owners of Whatsapp, and they blocked it from their base outside Ghana.
“It could be because the video involves a minor, someone reported it to Whatsapp and they stopped it,” another telco official said.
But Ghanaians living abroad who have those sex videos on their phones told Adom News they are able to share the video among themselves on Whatsapp in the UK, USA and other parts of the world.
An IT expert also told Adom News he suspects the local telcos may have changed some codes in the properties of the video making it impossible to share on social media.
He insisted that Whatsapp could not have done the blocking of the video since a transfer on Whatsapp is possible in other countries except Ghana.
“We are still trying various ways of sending the video via Whatsapp – we will let you know what we find,” he said.
Some staff of the telcos also said they tried various ways of resaving and sending that video on Whatsapp but it did not work.
Meanwhile, a customer service official at one of the telcos said she suspects one of the public officials whose son is allegedly involved in one of the sex videos, may have pulled the strings to block the video.
“I am sure the Minister in question may have used his/her power to block the video – this is Ghana and that Minister only needs to make a call for this thing to be blocked – so please just manage with what you have and stop spreading the video,” she said.
Adom News also reached telecoms regulator National Communications Authority (NCA) and they said Telcos do not have control over content, but the law allows them to prevent the spread of any content deemed harmful to a minor, provided someone makes a complaint.
The NCA is still not sure whether anyone made a complaint to the telcos, or the telcos indeed blocked the video. But they said the law empowers the telcos to protect certain groups of persons when it becomes necessary.
Adom News has sent email to Whatsapp still in pursuit of answers to why those videos are blocked in Ghana alone, but could be shared on Whatsapp anywhere else.