CYBERCRIME ACT

Misleading info on coronavirus will only increase panic

Citizens started writing fake news online after Kenya confirmed her first case

In Summary

• Coronavirus has hit numerous countries regardless of development status, people are scared and economies are collapsing. 

• It’s better not to say or publish anything on social media than to risk trouble by publishing opinions that are not based on facts. 

Social media sites.
OPINION HUBS: Social media sites.
Image: COURTESY

In the wake of the deadly coronavirus, there’s an increasing call for people to be mindful of the information they share online. It’s wrong to circulate untrue information with a potential to cause harm, fear or confusion. 

In Kenya, a person who publishes false and misleading data is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or two years imprisonment or both under the Computer and Cybercrime Act, 2018. 

There’s an overriding need for the government to remind the general public of the existence of this law and to employ its law enforcement agencies when there is a breach.

We have seen strange information doing rounds on social media since the first coronavirus case was recorded in the country.

Purveyors of lies, for whatever reason, somehow find it convenient to disseminate data that they know is inadequately verified, exaggerated and enthusiastically written. This is dangerous and can lead to unnecessary panic.

The COVID-19 has hit literally every corner of the world. Everyone is worried. Economies are on the brink of collapse. 

And the underlying message is one – stand up in your capacity to stop further havoc by doing the right thing. Keep high standards of hygiene at home and at work. Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and avoid close contact with people exhibiting symptoms of the flu.   

Also, citizen journalism must be handled with care. It’s better not to say or publish anything on social media than to risk trouble by publishing opinions that are not based on facts. 

Equally, there’s danger in reducing a matter as serious as a pandemic to gag shows. It can be fatal. 

Additionally, the government must continue to educate the public on coronavirus and steps to take to be safe from it.

Journalism student, MMUK