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Opinions of Monday, 26 April 2010

Columnist: Otchere-Darko, Gabby Asare

Faceless characters abusing the internet with baseless allegations

Dear managers of,

I write, reluctantly, in response to an 'article' carried recently on your very popular website, with the title 'Why Akufo-Addo's Man Smearing Alan's Campaign'.

The 'piece' was written by a regular contributor who goes by the name Nana Kofi Amankwa of New York, a writer known for his hateful communications against certain people on ghanaweb.

This is not the first time the writer has shown some loathing for me but this is clearly a needless spit too venomous.

While, we are all entitled to hold opinions however vile and controversial about others, manufacturing facts to attack the reputation of others is I believe a culture that your very informative website should try a little harder to discourage.

For well over a decade, ghanaweb has become a very popular and respected information channel relied on by people across the globe who seek information and news on Ghana.

Arguably, it is the most popular and I am one Ghanaian who is very grateful to you for the internatonal service you render to our nation, free of charge.

While, some of us may appreciate, to some extent, the liberal or loose manner in which this popular website is managed, we believe the managers of the site also owe some basic standard of responsibility to the world, especially its numerous regular visitors, in making sure that the site does not degenerate into a convenient worldwide conveyor belt for publishing false and baseless allegations about people.

The article in question made several serious and even criminal defamatory allegations against my person and other known figures in Ghana, details of which I don't wish to repeat here. But, I wish to state here that none of the allegations made against me is true.

While the internet provides an avenue for people to take cheap shots at the people they may not like or may disagree with, I will plead with the managers of your reputable website to take some active steps to discourage such an important new media site from being so cheaply abused. Ghanaweb is too influential to be reduced to a medium for making criminal allegations about people without offering any evidence in support. To many of us, Ghanaweb is much more than a forum for baseless scurrility and tirade; but, should it even give room for baseless scurrility and repulsive tirade?

Can we, for example, debate issues without insults about people's ethnicity, etc? I believe I speak for several others when I say that I hope its managers will endeavour to make it no longer be seen as a worldwide refuge for those who seek to knit a web of defamatory lies about other people and attack personalities in a way that disfavours our nation and people. Allegations may be made but not baseless ones by faceless characters against people's reputation.

While the victims of such false allegations may be given the opportunity to refute them after they are published, the nature of the worldwideweb is that the defamatory statement may remain accessible whenever a victim's name is googled.

Unfortunately, a culture is developing where a false and baseless allegation is manufactured and posted on the internet for our newspapers to feed on, sourcing the internet. While this may be excusable in some cases, I believe managers of such sites can play a more responsible role in protecting and promoting the development of freedom of expression in this new and exciting mass media.

Thank you.

Gabby Otchere-Darko