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5 Key Takeaways: ADMCA Media Conference On Cyber Bullying, Stalking

The Association of Digital Media Core Advocates, (ADMCA)  on Thursday, 17th January 2024 successfully hosted an impactful panel discussion on Cyber aggression, cyberbullying, and the safe use of social media.

The media conference which was presided by the National President of ADMCA Dr. Harris Chuma Odili and held at Apple Valley Hotel, Awka, allowed the participants to share ideas, opinions, and best practices on how to curb cyberbullying and social media manipulations. Below are some of the key takeaways from the press conference;

    Cyberbullying is the use of internet communication to intimidate, threaten, or harass an individual or body,  while stalking refers to when a perpetrator constantly makes efforts to get in contact with the victim, and most times the harassment escalates offline. Internet bullies aim to disseminate or post negative, harmful, or false content about an individual or body to damage the victim’s image or reputation. Sometimes the perpetrators cross the line into unlawfully disclosing private or confidential information about a person or organisation as a way of causing humiliation or embarrassment.
    With the prevalence of modern technologies like cell phones and computers, there are many social and digital forums, however  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and direct text messaging are likely the channels where most cyberbullying occurs. The internet is a global village and its heterogeneous nature allows millions of people to view, participate in, and share content both online and offline. “The Internet never forgets”, hence a post shared on the space remains permanent even after being reported and removed. Once it is posted online, millions of users are likely to have access to the content. It can still be extracted because these online users might have shared, taken screenshots, and to some extent put in printed forms posts made, especially controversial publications either to generate traffic or for reference purposes
  • Cyberbullying and cyber-stalking a rising phenomena and critical threats that shouldn’t be neglected.
  • There is a need for the Government and relevant authorities to train and address the issues of intimidation faced by journalists in the course of discharging their duties.
  • ADMCA commended the enactment of laws geared towards sanitizing the system, and also drew attention to the removal of penalties regarding criminal defamation from the penal code as it is being exploited by the rich and powerful class to dim “the opposing views in the society, in active connivance with the law enforcement agents”. The association reiterated the need for balanced reportage by digital media practitioners online.
  • ADMCA preaches that the same rules applied for safe reporting in traditional media should also be applied to digital media.
  • Understanding media laws and ethics, having self-confidence, integrity, comportment, and self-value as a journalist are core in the media practice.
  • The increase in the spread of fake news by untrained online users affects people’s trust in true and professional journalism.
  • In curbing cyber aggressions, the orientation of online users on unlawful and unethical publications should be considered as a crucial step to maintaining sanity in the online environment.
  • Fake profiles and account hacking: Abusive or damaging messages can be posted by Cyberbullies when they gain access or hack their victim’s social media account.  Some use publicly available photos and videos to create fake accounts to damage a person or organisation’s brand reputation.
  • Citizen journalism is on the increase and there is a need for the enforcement of cyber laws and sanctions on offenders.
  • Cyberbullying and stalking can land you in Jail or pay a huge fine.
  • Cyberbullying and cyber-stalking are offenses that can attract a fine of between N2m and N25 mm or a sentence of between 1 year and 10 years, or both, depending on the severity of the case.

Most countries have laws that regulate cyber attacks just like in Nigeria,  but the big question is if the citizens are aware of the existence of such laws, understand the legal implications of violating the enacted laws, and if they are truly implemented to protect their citizens. In the recent press conference held by ADMCA, participants and online users at large were cautioned to always adhere to the rule of law as entrenched in the Cyber Crime Act 2015 stating;

  • That cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking are offenses that can attract a fine of between N2m and 25m or a sentence of between 1 year and 10 years, or both, depending on the severity of the case.
  • That cyber-squatting, which is using another person’s domain name to push a treacherous article, is an offense. Some digital media people tend to register a domain name that mimics another well-established brand to push whatever intentions they have. This is against the law and could earn culprits 2 years in Jail or N5m fine, or both.
  • That the Act prohibits the distribution of racist and xenophobic materials or sharing on your handle words considered insulting or degrading to one’s religion, ethnicity, or color. Culprits could get a fine of N10m or a jail term of 5 years, if not both.

During the event, a university don, Dr. Chukwuma Onunkwo in his paper presentation enumerated the negative effects of cyberbullying and stalking, which included mental health challenges, increased stress and anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. He also emphasized the need for the government and all relevant stakeholders to put hands on deck in embarking on social reorientation of the masses and the enactment of more laws that would safeguard and regulate the activities of media professionals.

The conference featured the unveiling of an online newspaper, “Hardcore News,” and the presentation of certificates to participants who graced the event

Participants: Journalists, social media influencers, bloggers, and other online users who are interested in the topic of the conference.

Participants at the conference

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