MH370: Share info and posts with caution, netizens urged

MH370: Share info and posts with caution, netizens urged

MALAYSIA - M. Y. Ho, 26, who is constantly connected to Facebook, credits the social media for providing the latest updates in real time.

On the downside, there is too much clutter and not all sources are credible, she admits.

"I haven't posted anything on MH370 because it's not like it would help the victims or their families," she rationalises.

While acknowledging the power of the social media, civil servants Nooryesmin Pawan Jalaluddin, 35, and Sharifah Nazira Syed Bashir Ahmad, 36, say they take what they read or watch with a healthy dose of scepticism.

Nooryesmin, who feels that social media reports are "not as reliable" as the mainstream media, says there are too many "keyboard warriors" looking for opportunities to politicise and make the situation worse, and it is not helping the families involved.

She feels that fellow social media users should not post, re-post or re-tweet anything unless the mainstream media has announced it.

"I'm afraid of speculating (what went wrong with the flight) for fear of God's wrath.

"This unfortunate incident is a reminder to us mere mortals that no matter how advanced your technology is, God's will is greater."

Sharifah Nazira notes that people tend to believe things which are untrue if these are repeated often enough.

She says if the title is interesting, most do not even read the content before sharing.

"If you are unsure (about its reliability), please don't share.

"It's extremely irresponsible and just causes more grief and confusion."

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has since cautioned netizens about opening suspicious MH370 links as these can automatically spam all your contacts, and harm the computer or mobile device along the way.

Acknowledging that some content may be very upsetting to the families of those involved, defamation law specialist Bhag Singh says there is unfortunately no legal remedy available.

Bhag, who helped draft the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code, advises those who come across inappropriate content to report it to the Communica­tions and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF).

The code's sanctions - a written reprimand, a fine not exceeding RM50,000 and, or, a requirement to remove the offending content - however, only apply to sites registered in Malaysia, CMCF executive director Mohd Mustaffa Fazil Mohd Abdan explains.

Warning that although the offensive post is on a foreign site, the CMCF can still make recommendations to the relevant regulatory authorities for it to be removed if the posting was done by someone in the country.

"Pause (and think) before you post or you might be in breach of a law unknowingly.

"In such cases, action can even be taken by the police, MCMC and the Government," he says, adding that the CMCF promotes self-regulation rather than sanctioning and censoring netizens.

While Mohd Mustaffa Fazil prefers to see the good of social media, he is personally affected by the bad. He was the childhood friend and best man at missing cabin crew Junaidi Mohd Kassim's wedding.

When the news of the plane broke, he immediately turned to social networking sites to contact Junaidi's family.

"Every Malaysian feels connected to this tragedy whether directly or otherwise because it involves our national carrier and fellow citizens.

"For me, it's very personal because my best friend is missing.

"But by and large, the well-wishers and genuine love coming from netizens everywhere have outweighed the hurtful comments, inappropriate posts and wild speculation that have flooded the Internet," he says, opening up.

Urging netizens to be responsible when sharing information and to admonish or report those they feel have crossed the line of human decency, he says social media remains imperative in keeping people connected.

"Of course there are those who have misused the social media but this has more to do with poor human conduct than technology.

"It's okay to criticise but do it constructively, so that there's room for discussions."


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