421,000 internet users in Fiji

While social media has facilitated communication, interactions and interconnectedness, it has also brought some negative impacts into society. Cyberbullying and the spread of fake news are two negative by-products of the internet and in particular – social media. These two issues are becoming major social problems in modern society, particularly as internet use increases and social media becomes a major source of information for a large number of people.

Fiji’s 2017 census recorded a total number of 884,887 people living in Fiji. As of March 2017, data released by Internet World Stats indicated there were more than 421,000 internet users in Fiji. By June they established that there were 380,000 Facebook users in Fiji.

The data reveals a staggering number of local people rely on the internet for information. It also depicts how much of people’s personal information is readily available on the World Wide Web through social media platforms like Facebook. This is a vast difference from more than a decade ago when the number of internet users in the country was only 12,000 in the early 2000s.

This year, the Council is marking the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) with the theme “Cyberbullying and Fake News.” To mark the occasion, the Council is hosting an inter-tertiary debate on the topic “Should Cyberspace be regulated to combat fake news and cyber bullying?”

Cyberbullying and fake news have become a cause for concern locally. While many in the country consider the subject a minor issue, the effect it has on individuals can be devastating.

Apart from cyberbullying, another internet phenomenon that is making an impact across the globe and in Fiji is fake news.

Fake news has always been designed to harm. It is when writers or broadcasters sensationalise or exaggerate news making it out to be bigger than what it actually is in reality.

As we progressively conduct our lives online and on social media, socialising, and sharing information — our digital rights to privacy and freedom of expression are at risk while our online footprint is growing.

Fiji still needs to develop digital rights and responsibilities for digital users to safeguard consumers when it comes to the wrongful use of the internet and associated platforms. Every internet user has the right to use the worldwide web in a manner they see fit but they must do so in a reasonable and responsible manner.