Fighting Facebook Racism – Another Mauritian Witch-hunt Story

The Big Season Cleanup has started on the Mauritian Social Networks

Havoc in the  Mauritius “SocialMediaverse”?

Racism, Sex and Trolls are seriously being dealt with on the Mauritian Facebook Network these days. Pages and accounts are being forced to spontaneously close down and the surge in repressing ill-doers by local police, is being welcomed.

But this was bound to happen within a constantly growing network. As the +300k users local platform matures, more illegal (by local standards) curiosities are being uncovered, pointed out and denounced. Individuals are feeling the urge to clean up the mess caused by excessive freedom abuse by some very few wayward apprentices.

The hectic cleansing started after Ms. Bunwaree, a 22-yr old Facebooker expressed her hatred against the Islamic fasting community, last week, following a romance failure, she said. Earlier this month, following the setup of an Irish solidarity Facebook group and event in favor of Micheala Harte (murdered Irish honeymooner on Mauritian soil), mainstream social activist Jameel Peerally experienced publicly posted death threats. These two unconnected events created enough buzz to get the Mauritian Social Network swirling. Aftershocks automatically followed.

And The Search and Shoot Game started

The spin gained in momentum and pulled in a wave of search to shoot  frenzy all over the Mauritian Facebook mainly. And this was how a new instance of online racism rooted since March this year, was uncovered. Young Kushal, on an alcoholic trip, publicly invited the beat up of guys from another community. The young Mauritian, thanks to the help of social activists and local Community Managers, gave a press conference and publicly apologized over his irresponsible online wall writings.

The search and shoot yielded even more. Mauritian YouTube user, IrvinManohar was officially reported to Google services for using abusive and racist language directed at a specific community, while on Facebook a gender-degrading Fan page, owned by another -20 Mauritian, containing denuded minors was reported and driven to shut down.

And as if that wasn’t enough, mainstream Journalist and Editor, Darlmah Naeck posts a slurring racist article, on defimediagroup’s blog, pointing and degradingly analysing a specific community again. He has been facing, for hours now, total wrath from Mauritian Facebookers and from colleagues, some of whom are even requesting exemplary punishment.

Hear well

All the above examples are subject to harsh laws and criminal prosecution. Ms Bunwaree learned that to her expense. She has been detained for more than 3 days and was only bailed out today. All those concerned in the above-mentioned cases will follow the same path and will potentially face a maximum MUR 1 Million fine and 5 yr imprisonment if convicted.

Other such Mauritian illegal examples do exist and will surely go into stealth mode as long as the cleansing buzz is not over.

Out of all this stirred dirt and mud splatter, comes the reflection about controlling limits of freedom on the virtual dimension. Should a government impose filters and latent repression on Social Networks like in China? Should we allow the use of Keyword Listening Technologies to track, ban and punish?

From what we have seen so far on the Mauritian Facebook, we can predict the formation of specialized online militias and inquisitors that would seek the smallest of grains to feed basic, naive puritanism. Delation will then turn into sport or even business.

Facebook Likes: A Case Law over Freedom of Speech Issue?

Following the Daniel Ray Carter case, in which a former deputy sheriff from Virginia (USA) lost his job after “liking” the incumbent sheriff’s election opponent, Facebook made its stand clear about freedom of speech on its platforms. The Californian Social Media giant supported claim that the American Constitution’s First Amendment protects “likes”. That shall normally constitute some case law.

Should that mean that any action or wall writing should be allowed, whatever the content? I do not think so! It certainly means that we have the right to do everything we want anywhere on the Net, as long as we decide to abide to the Laws of the land. We should keep in mind that ever developing Geo-localization and Meta data technologies know how to tie our IP addresses to a specific place in a specific country. This wasn’t fully or easily possible five years ago.

What we should retain

The constant development of Social Media offerings will definitely complicate enforcement online. Following a late report, Facebook is looking forward to introduce real-money gambling in the UK. Should this work, we should expect it to roll out on our shores someday in a relatively near future. Should we fight that? And How?

In a youth-driven society like in Mauritius, Education seems to me like the most sustainable key. Creating a civic online culture is a definite solution to these types of out-sways. Community Managers, local activists as well as Teachers in schools should be made to explain what Social Media is all about, talking about its powers, flaws and legal limitations. Traditional Media should play their pedagogical role and be the ones to dissect and humanize the place of Social Media in a multi-cultural society. They should keep up-to-date with Social Media developments and experiment them on behalf of the layman. The Authorities have their score too. They need to intensely inform, teach, warn without limiting legal freedom. Getting to talk about and teach Social Media is a major Win upon taming it.

But then again, the discipline is so young, so new… The first email was only sent in 1971.

Social Media is, in fact, the only human invention Man is yet to understand.

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