The spread of graphic images and ‘fake news’ is a matter of concern for Minister of Youth Adrian Forde.
Delivering opening remarks at today’s Internet Governance Forum at the Barbados Community College he warned secondary school students that though the Internet was a good tool, when misused it could be deadly.
“We are aware of a surge in cyber bullying, stalking and fake news and there is no better recipient than myself as a politician on how to deal with news that isn’t true,” said Forde while lamenting that in today’s world “people would rather take a photo than lend a helping hand”.
“What is happening here today will not go viral, but something on [the blog] Naked Departure would, including circulating scenes from tragic accidents,” the Government spokesman said.
He warned the students not to be perpetrators of such hurtful deeds.
“We have to really be aware of it because I’m sure that every one of us has been on the receiving end of someone sending out information that is false. It is very serious thing and I want persons to understand that before they press that little [send] button,” he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Rodney Taylor, the chairman of Internet Society Barbados Chapter, who told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the forum that his organization was actively seeking to sensitize the general public about the dangers of sharing such images and videos.
“People do it without thinking. You take your phone out and feel good that you have a few thousands of views or it has gone viral, but you may not think until it has happened to you,” he said while pointing out that it was against the laws of Barbados to post certain messages and images online.
He did not specify any particular legislation but under the Computer Misuse Act persons have been charged here for publishing ‘malicious communications’.
Section 14 of the Computer Misuse Act specifically states that “Where a person uses a computer to send a message, letter, electronic communication or article of any description that (a) is indecent or obscene;(b) is or constitutes a threat; or (c) is menacing in character, and he intends to cause or is reckless as to whether he causes annoyance, inconvenience, distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends it or its contents to be communicated, he is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 12 months or to both.”
“We must respect other people’s rights and cultural norms and we hope that we can sensitize Barbados towards the more advantageous uses of the Internet and away from the more sensational spread of tragedy on the online platform,” he added.