CITY GIRL: Why the new cybercrimes law is just what we need - Nairobi News
3 weeks ago, 18:12
On Monday, a photo of a woman was posted on social media, with a caption suggesting she was the person who had been shot dead at City Park the previous day. At the time of the post, Kenyans had not yet seen pictures of the victim of the Sunday morning shooting.
Turns out, the photo posted on social media that Monday evening was that of a different Ms Wangui Waiyaki, a public relations professional.
The clueless amateurs who had posted it had no doubt earlier searched the Internet for the name “Janet Wangui Waiyaki” and landed on the LinkedIn profile of “Wangui Waiyaki”. In their ignorance, they decided that she must be the victim of the shooting and they posted the picture.
As far as they were concerned, she fitted the profile. She was pretty enough to catch the eye, a married woman — enough to spark controversy — especially since police reports suggested that the victim and the young man were caught in a compromising situation. It was the perfect recipe for a viral post.
The bloggers had done the worst they could. They had killed an innocent woman. They also posted a picture of her husband on their wedding day.
They even noted the company she was working for, her previous workplace and dared to link her “death” to business rivalry between two PR companies.
Her friends who are on social media — God bless them — tirelessly fought back the bloggers and pressured them to get their facts right. They said the Ms Wangui Waiyaki they knew was safe and sound, and was in fact, in traffic, headed home to her family.
The blogger — knowing too well that nothing would be done to him — asked Ms Wangui’s friends to be quiet or produce a picture of the woman shot by police… as if it was their duty to do so.
By Tuesday morning, when the Daily Nation released the photos of the victim, Janet Wangui Waiyaki, the damage had already been done.
Today, if you search the name “Wangui Waiyaki” on social media, you will not find her personal profile, but instead posts by her friends frantically telling people that she is not dead.
Because of a couple of misguided bloggers, the professional reputation that Ms Wangui Waiyaki had worked so hard to cultivate over the years had been put in jeopardy.
This is why I totally support the 2018 Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act. The freedom of expression crusaders can say what they like about this new law that criminalises the publishing of false information, but looking at it from the prism of freedom alone is a selfish way of looking at things.
As someone who has been a victim of digital mudslinging and online character assassination, I can tell you there is no greater pain than being accused of nonsense that you are innocent of by bloggers who are clearly being used by rivals or people who just don’t like you.
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