EDITORIAL: Hate speech, whatever the platform, should be dealt with firmly

This is the age of the dot.com generation. They are now seated in the inherited chairs of their analogue elders, some of who have to reluctantly hand over the reins of power.

This is the age of the dot.com generation. They are now seated in the inherited chairs of their analogue elders, some of who have to reluctantly hand over the reins of power.

The reluctance is quite understandable. Even though the elder generation by be a bit slow in catching up with the continuously evolving technology, alarm bells are already ringing.

 

There is less human-to human interaction, everyone is glued to their smart devises, there is no more catching up with the neighbourhood gossip mills at the market because the latter have gone online.

 

This unfettered access to technology is what is giving many sleepless nights; a rumour on social media is propagated worldwide in an instant and damage control is very limited.

 

As we go into elections, the dangers of hate speech dominating the debates on social media are every well-intentioned person’s nightmare: How do they counter the threat?

In fact, one of the presidential candidates has already requested authorities to investigate hate messages directed against him on social media. But that might just be the beginning of the storm.

While the regulatory and security agencies might be powerless to deal with abusers outside Rwanda’s territorial jurisdiction, they can do something about incitement, and hate speech within our borders.

The police have a cyber crime unit and Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) has the tools. They should join hands. They should not let the insults being thrown of social media platforms to spiral out of control before they act.

Anyone deemed to have flouted the law should be dealt with firmly to serve as an example. Many of us have been enslaved by the technology craze, but it was created by humans and cannot defeat us in bringing it under control.

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