For many years, Ugandans have used the internet and social media the way they want, from spreading false information to putting the security of the country at risk and nobody seemed to care even when things were going out of hands. I think it is only in Uganda where people have been announced dead when they’re alive, strong and healthy, sometimes those same read it on internet as news prompting them to come out and refute that information. In Uganda, people are paid to abuse others the way they want on social media and the only option that person being abused can take is either to switch off the phone and watch on or respond to people who are always angry and whose anger you can never be sure of it’s source. The harassment on Ugandan social media has always caused trauma to some people and others getting mental health problems. Some people’s integrity and reputation has been put down by irresponsible social media users and nobody seemed to care about that.
Social media has planted a seed of hate to different groups of people and of recent the attacks had reached at the level of conflicting between different tribes which would have resulted into physical fighting and conflicts or civil war. Most of the disastrous wars that have happened in the world usually have a small source that sparks off the entire situation and by the time it starts it can longer be contained hence leading to bloodshed and destruction of property. Some people on social media are so desperate for views and comments and they end up doing all sorts of things in search of those audiences. Others are so desperate to be the ones to break the news first hence leading to publication of wrong information.
The computer misuse act which was passed by parliament will bring social media users to order and restore normalcy on the internet if the President accepts to sign it. There will be order on the flow of information and the rights of other people will also be respected and considered. No body has any problem with any person who uses social media to market his products and neither does the government or the public have any problem with those who productively uses social media. The only problem is with those who use social media to harass, insult, spread false information and create all sorts of things in public. The social media platforms themselves like Facebook has been blocking some people who break their rules, I have seen colleagues who have been permanently banned from using Facebook and those who are given periodic suspension. The same has been done by twitter and TikTok. That means that even social media platforms are aware of the individuals who use thier platforms with an intention to cause havoc and I think that’s why they go ahead to put a ban of even permanently delete some accounts of different individuals. If this is being done by those platforms themselves, then government delayed to regulate the people who misuse social media and the internet, because those platforms only detect when other uses have reported maybe because of the traffic.
The computer misuse act is being challenged and opposed by only those who aware that they will fall victim of misusing social media. They’re aware that they have been trading in lies and propaganda to earn a living and therefore introducing such a law will put the source of their income at risk to close. The people who offend others on social media are so selfish to the extent that they don’t care about the individuals who they’ve tortured badly and caused trauma, to them it’s their right of free speech to do whatever they feel like doing on internet not minding about the person they’re doing it to, some do it with an intention to annoy or revenge. However human rights and other freedoms are not segregative, each person should be feeling protected by the law and therefore, I don’t think it is the right of anybody to abuse, harass and cause trauma in the foolery of exercising the right of free speech. Ugandans who have been mis using social media and the internet will now think twice before they create or write anything on internet. They will no longer be reckless like they have been, they will take responsibility of the problems they create by misusing the internet and social media.
However, I understand that there are some advantages of social media, for instance the people who abuse children have been recorded and apprehended by security and brought to courts of law because of the videos that are always captured in secret and shared with security or the public, this kind of good acts will continue because after all it’s done in good Faith with no bad intention to hurt or tell lies or spoil the reputation of anybody but rather to save the innocent Juveniles who find themselves in the hands of heartless people. Other things that the internet has helped to do like giving information to security organizations will also continue because they’re done in good will. Social media will now be safer place for the children and other people in that the users will now be posting with responsibility which hasn’t been the case in the past.
The writer is a deputy RDC Kyenjojo District.
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