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By Deputy Editor / Published on Tuesday, 12 Apr 2016 16:49 PM / No Comments / 304 views

27 March 2016
TODAY we have a story headlined, “Be wary of citizen journalism” in which journalists are being urged to be wary of citizen journalism if they want to preserve their credibility in the media industry.

Simple tools like a cellphone or camera, together with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp are a recipe for potentially disastrous misinformation.

A lie or a small exaggeration from a rumour monger or a harmful gossiper can go viral and cause irreversible damage to individuals or corporates.

People, in their private capacities, are usually at the root of such harmful gossip which has been described as “mud thrown on a wall, it may not stick, but it always leaves a dirty mark.”

Social media has been awash with too many false reports on a weekly, if not daily basis – of deaths of prominent people, fake disasters and accidents, reputation-damaging photo-shopped pictures et cetera – and people have fallen for the misinformation.

Many institutions have flighted press releases distancing themselves from fake adverts circulating on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.

People who create such messages gain nothing in lying through social media as their main purpose for sending such messages and causing them to go viral is just petty nuisance.

So since there are such unfortunate people with nothing to do with their time, people must be warned about things they read or see on social media.

The people behind these fake messages must also realize that it is dangerous, and sometimes criminal, for people to spread lies through social media.
This can destroy the images of other people or organisations and also land them in trouble.

People generally love spreading harmful gossip. Fake messages and hoaxes of fake deaths of celebrities, like the ones that once circulated about the likes of Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah and Oliver Mtukudzi, spread like veld fire amongst WhatsApp users but there are never reports or messages spreading with equal frequency indicating that the report was false.

This means the reputation of the persons or organisations would have been ruined and difficult to repair.

People should also realize that is illegal to forward messages that are potentially harmful to someone’s reputation without verifying if they are true.

Social networks are becoming more dangerous every shining hour and people are advised to be careful of what they forward from their phones.

People must learn to not only confirm if what they read is true but to know the trustworthy news sources that they should rely on for matters of record.

Police have described as false most news emanating from social networks and such news has even been as grave as an Ebola outbreak in the country. We should not readily believe what we read on social networks.

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