Dealing with fake news

The rise of fake news has had a profound impact on individuals and organisations across the world. Today, more organisations are placing stringent measures on dealing with fake news to ensure there is minimum damage to their businesses.

Fake news is derived from yellow journalism which involves sensationalism or exaggerations. Fake news is propaganda that deliberately spreads false information in traditional media organisations with the intent to do harm or damage.

With an increased dependence on the internet more people become susceptible victims of fake news, feeding onto the information and taking it as truth.

This could in turn harm a person’s or a businesses’ reputation.

Last year the country had its first social media defamation lawsuit between Emosi Radrodro and Fiji Fashion Week director Ellen Whippy Knight. In a report published in The Fiji Times titled Facebook defamation, Mrs Knight claimed her reputation had been seriously damaged and that her business, continued to suffer losses and damages as a result of the allegations.

In his judgement, High Court judge Justice Brito Mutunayagam ordered that Mr Radrodro pay compensation to Mrs Knight a sum of $10,000.

This verdict set the precedent for all social media defamation cases highlighting the need to be more careful when posting on social media.

The term defamation can refer to libel or slander. Libel is a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation. Slander is the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation. This usually involves broadcast media.

Section two of the Defamation Act also highlights that “words” include pictures, visual images, gestures and other methods signifying meaning.

Radrodro had said in court he emailed nude images of models to the CID. He said his intentions were to expose what he deemed as illegal activity involving young girls. The court however deemed his allegations as defamation hence the penalty.

One of the factors that led to the Facebook posts becoming part of a defamation lawsuit was the reach it had. He had also directly named persons and a company in his post.

The case raised the importance of being responsible on social media.

Calls have been made for a regulation of laws to help curb fake news and cyberbullying forcing the need for people to apply a little more tact and when engaging in social media.

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