FSII taking action to prevent abuse of its social network Facebook page

DEAR EDITOR, I was pleased to learn last week that the FSII President, Benjamin Afuga, announced he was taking action to remove unprofessional commentaries from its Facebook Page that undermined the vision, objectives and core values of the social networking group in the Solomon Islands.

While the Solomon Islands has a free press and the right to free speech is guaranteed by its Constitution, it should be remembered that the freedom to say what one likes cannot be absolute and a person’s right not to be wrongly or unfairly maligned must be protected.

Indeed most countries now have laws designed to protect the individual against the publication of material that reflects unfairly or falsely on a person’s character and reputation.

The collective word for such laws is defamation.

Publication of defamatory remarks on social networking sites are deemed to be unlawful since the act of ‘publication’ of the defamation is a core element of the law.

Individuals and often politicians in the Solomon Islands are frequently abused and often defamed in language shared, and in the sense, ‘published’ on social networking sites and in the media.

While the internet has increasingly become the way information is shared it is only right, in my view, that the contents should be monitored to prevent abuse and I consider the proposed actions of the FSII to be wholly appropriate.

Live video has, also, become increasingly controversial as social media sites have encouraged use of the tool but have struggled to monitor it.

The most prominent example was when four USA Chicago residents kidnapped and tortured a mentally challenged man in the beginning of January, broadcasting the whole thing on Facebook Live.

It was eventually taken down by Facebook, but not before it had been shared and embedded by others.

Having a video depicting graphic abuse republished and shared by tens or even hundreds of thousands of times means that the video continues to spread and be viewed by more people, depicting someone in a moment of ultimate vulnerability.

The same kind of thing must not be allowed to happen in the Solomon Islands.

Yours sincerely