Cybercrime law promotes civility, responsibility

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I am a 45-year-old mother of two who are already in their teens. Like most impressionable youngsters, my kids are into social media like Facebook—in the same way that during my time, I was hooked on the slum book. Those were the days.

As a mother, I am concerned about the effect of social media on my children. It is interactive, real time, and open to those who have access to the Internet. I also have my Facebook account, not so much for social purposes but to help me monitor my kids’ activities and the kind of friends they cultivate. Because of my children, I was introduced to blogging sites, which can be a great way of expressing yourself, your opinions and what have you.

Social media sites, Facebook for instance, have that immense power, revolutionizing how we connect and interact with each other. With just one click, we get updates on people, our loved ones, our friends, colleagues, even neighbors and coworkers. But in the wrong hands, social media can also be a tool for harassment and embarrassment which could have a lasting effect.

Let me tell you about a female friend of my daughter who had been subjected to embarrassment. Someone posted on Facebook her photo with the words: “Babala: Wag gagayahin, mang-aagaw ng boyfriend.” The hapless girl had been the butt of jokes and did not go to school for days.

I would not know what I will do if this happens to my two kids. That’s why I am at a loss why some sectors, particularly the media and the blogging community, are making a ruckus over the inclusion of libel in the cybercrime law. Social media have been an unregulated medium. Any Juan or Juana can just comment, post, or publish information, photos, opinions about anyone without any sense of civility, responsibility and decency. If the mainstream media can be held accountable for what they air or publish, how much more with the social media community? Even what we see on TV go through the MTRCB for proper classification. Newspapers, the decent ones, police themselves by not publishing those that go against public morals and decency, like smut.

How then do we hold those who post just about anything on social media sites accountable?

I do not believe that the cybercrime law’s libel provision violates freedom of speech and expression. If anything, it promotes decency and civility, responsibility and accountability for all those concerned.

—NITA ESTEBE,
a concerned mother,
nitaestebe@yahoo.com.ph

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