IT is becoming harder to separate fact from fiction on online media and it continues to cause anxiety in the public.
Following the 12 August General Elections, most citizens turn to Facebook and WhatsApp to keep abreast of new developments.
However, we have seen fake statements and fake news flying around and alarming the public.
Worse than that is the unashamed abuse of social media by some influential users who have no regard for the truth and instead arr in the forefront of peddling heresay and questionable photos and videos.
We agree with former Defence minister George Mpombo who has highlightedthe urgent need to clean up the cyberspace by implementing laws that guard against social media abuses.
Dr Mpombo has said the peddling of lies and derogatory statements that tarnish the image of other citizens had become the order of the day on social media.
He adds that social media was now marred with character assassination of both individuals and institutions.
Dr Mpombo said in an interview that there was need to seriously guard against the spreading of misleading and false information on social media. He urged the New Dawn government to enforce laws that guard against social media abuses.
“It is sad that social media users have now taken everything as child’s play, Government should quickly move in and enforce cyber laws to stop the rot,” Dr Mpombo said.
He said social media abuse had reached alarming levels, saying that hard core criminals were now swindling unsuspecting citizens out of their hard earned resources.
Dr Mpombo also expressed concern over a fake story that had gone viral suggesting that the Road Transport and safety Agency (RTSA) had made changes to procedures of handling traffic cases.
Meanwhile, RTSA Head Public Relations Fredrick Mubanga has dismissed a story circulating on social media which suggested changes to procedure in handling traffic cases.
Mr Mubanga said while RTSA acknowledged that the fast track court for traffic offences was initiated in 2013 to prosecute persons violating traffic rules and regulations, only traffic violations above the threshold of 1500 penalty units (K450.00) were administered through the fast track court.
He said those below the threshold were managed through the payment of admission of guilt procedure.
Mr Mubanga called on the public to treat the statement circulating on social media as null and void.
Indeed, such misinformation woud create apathy to authority which in the long run can affect the general governance of the wider population.
Despite, the misgivings around the introduction of the Cyber Crime and Cyber Security laws, there is obvious need to bring social media abusers to book.
The main objective of the laws are to: ensure the provision of cyber-security in the republic; provide for the protection of persons against cybercrime; provide for child online protection; facilitate identification, declaration and protection of critical information infrastructure; and provide for the collection of and preservation of evidence of computer and network-related crime. To curb abuse of social media there must be a deliberate move by the public to report perpetrators of abuse to authorities to ensure corrective measures are taken and to deter further abuse.