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Self discipline in IM networks

  • Do bear in mind that any message we post could be traced and conveniently reposted or forwarded by the recipients.

Sin Chew Daily

A female teacher in Sabah has become the first WhatsApp user in the country to be charged under Section 233 of Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for causing annoyance to another individual by sharing fake information over the instant messaging network.

Deputy communication and multimedia minister Jailani Johari announced earlier that the government was mulling actions against WhatsApp group administrators unable to rein in the spread of lies among their members under the same law.

The prosecution of the Sabah teacher indicates that the authorities have started monitoring the contents in WhatsApp groups.

Prior to this, actions taken against individuals sharing text messages, videos or sound clips containing unreal, defamatory, slandering, pornographic and criminal elements on social media sites involved mostly Facebook and Twitter users.

According to the MCMC enforcement & investigation department, four people were charged and convicted for spreading lies on the social media during the first half of 2016.

The usage of closed instant messaging networks such as WhatsApp, FB Messenger, WeChat and Viber has exceeded Facebook and other social media sites.

More and more chat groups are being set up each day for the purpose of social, work or job communication. Messages posted in these closed groups are mostly information related to the needs of the members, but could also contain totally unrelated junk messages that have obscured and distorted the original purpose of these networks as a communication platform to bring the members closer together.

Under such circumstances, group administrators play an absolutely important role in fending off unreal and misguiding information from being circulated in their groups.

However, due to the enormous amounts of messages fed into the groups, chances of them escaping the watchful eyes of administrators are inevitable. This is where self discipline on the part of individual users becomes crucial.

A wrong message containing seditious or defamatory elements could inflict a great deal of harm to specific individuals or organizations and could mar our existing social stability and give rise to unnecessary disputes.

Abuse of social media and IM services could compromise inter-community relations and have a negative bearing on national unity.

Even though WhatsApp chats are closed groups, do bear in mind that any information we post could be traced and conveniently reposted or forwarded by the recipients.

As such, think twice before sharing anything, especially messages carrying seditious, defamatory and extreme contents. This is to prevent us from getting embroiled in legal disputes, spawning hatred and encouraging confrontation in the society.



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