Feature Article of Monday, 19 June 2017

Columnist: Owusu Nyarko Boateng

Social media contents in Ghana.

Social 2 Social media

The issue of sharing illicit videos and pictures on social media has gained some level of permanence among the users of such tools especially those from Ghana, my motherland and it’s about time offenders are arrested and prosecuted.

The government of Ghana and institutions mandated to ensure such contents are not seen at all, we mostly hear on radio and TV stations appealing to social media users to stop sharing illicit contents instead of taking legal action against these people. Institutions such as Ghana police service intelligence department, National Security, etc. are mandated institutions in Ghana which have the authority to investigate or perform a forensic audit and analysis for digital evidence.

These institutions also have the authority to ban or block any prohibited or unlawful contents on social media; these institutions must, therefore, rise to the task. When videos or pictures which are classified as unfit for public distribution go viral on social media, our national security apparatus can easily investigate the sources of such information, effect arrests where necessary and ensure those people are punished for the contents they post and circulate on social media.

A typical example is a man who was jailed for three months for posting pictures on Facebook of the body of someone believed to have leapt to his death from the Grenfell Tower fire. Omega Mwaikambo who is 43 years, posted a video and pictures of the victim’s face and body on Facebook. The man was jailed based on UK Defamation Act 2013 section 1. The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on 14 June 2017, in North Kensington, West London, England. In addition, Telegraph, 24th May 2016 edition reported that in 2015 1,209 people were found guilty of offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 in the UK.

A similar situation occurred in India in October 2012, where three youngsters from Kishtwar district were arrested and sent to jail for 40 days after they were tagged in an allegedly blasphemous video posted on Facebook. One of them had commented on the post. Kishori Sharma, Bansi Lal and Moti Lal Sharma were charged with desecrating religious symbols and inciting communal hatred by using information technology. Many instances of arrest for unlawful post on social media can be cited across the globe especially in USA, Australia, Japan, etc.

Ghana has experienced many indecent contents sharing on social media and no one has been arrested for sharing those imageries. We see on a daily basis photos of dead bodies, accidents victims, people whose lives were in danger, nude pictures and of course pornographic materials. How can we sit down unconcerned when all these cyber flaws are been perpetrated each an everyday? How are we training our kids and what kind of information are we feeding our children who are supposed to be our future leaders. The public needs censored contents on social media. Our state security agencies must arise to the task of giving the best and trusted contents on our social media.

Some websites need to be blocked, some must be banned, and somebody must investigate some illicit posts on social media. We saw images of hon. JB Danquah’s dead body on social media, Asantehemaa’s remains was posted on social media, videos of naked women suspected to be thieves, videos of various accidents on our roads. Major Maxwell Mahama Adams’ videos and pictures were all over social media for 5 days only for state authorities to appeal to Ghanaians to stop sharing those unlawful contents on social media; Sad day.

We have institutions in Ghana which are fully equipped and resourced to ensure that the best contents circulated on social media are wholesome. Those who post unlawful contents can easily be traced and arrested. Ghana must work again and this we can do by implementing proper cyber security policies.