Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists
Benjamin Franklin once said; “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.
Early in the morning before I got to work I wake up for a daily fix of world news from various channels, from ZBC ‘s political machinations to Press TV’s anti-West propaganda from Iran. Yesterday I almost got lost on time as I got to drawn into an Edward Snowden interview on CNN. This is one guy who turned from being a spy to a whistleblower and in the end he exposed the ridiculous.
From the George Bush era to Obama’s second term in office, the US government has been on a mission to do data mining and eavesdropping on people’s conversations and online activities through a programme called PRISM. The scam involved some of the social media companies we have been trusting with our valuable private information. From big telecomms companies to social media and search engine companies like Facebook and Google, the US government has been able to access private information on citizens and all this was done in the name of national security. Holed up in Hong Kong the former spy revealed that a total of nine mobile and technology companies knew about PRISM and collaborated in turning over citizens’ private information to the government.
To me Snowden is a hero because he took an oath to defend the Constitution but when he realized that the Constitution was being violated he decided to go public. Of course there are those calling for his head for treason and some may argue and say if you have nothing to hide then why worry but the bottom line is citizens’ liberties are being given away for temporary safety. If a government can have access to people’s private telephone records even without any wrongdoing is not a violation of human rights then what would stop Swaziland or Sudan’s government from investing in such technology that can used infringe on citizen’s rights under the same banner of national security. Like any previous laws passed in US which infringe on online freedoms PRISM has set a bad precedence to countries with repressive regimes as this will be a justification to wiretap and monitor online activities of citizens.
While millions have “religiously” embraced social media with the kind of enthusiasm perhaps not seen since the invention of the Gutenberg press, this has, predictably perhaps, come at a price.
Well, for that little thing called social etiquette, which is set to have knock on advertising traffic on these portals.
Citizens of social media spaces have lapped up on the anonymity offered here where you can create user accounts under various aliases and post all manner of both palatable and unpalatable stuff.
And raw bigotry, sexual, or otherwise, has been just but one bane to afflict these spaces where disparaging “sexual jokes” and what some are calling Facebook Rape, has become “normal.” Talk about the well-worn phrase “normalizing the abnormal.”
And this is stuff usually not uttered in any other setting but has with increasing audacity found its way into these very public spaces called social media.
Facebook is now being lobbied to act and this is something FB cannot ignore.
Its advertisers are being targeted by lobbyists, and for a company with over 1 billion users, and as it is agreed that with such numbers, social networks can indeed make a lot of moolah, Facebook can only but pay attention.
Called the the #FBrape campaign’s strategy it seeks to “hold Facebook accountable for the misogynistic content of its users by pressuring advertisers.”
And misogynistic content sure abounds, and for Ndebele and Shona readers, this is all too familiar and we all know how raw vulgarity spoken or written in our own languages can be.
Yet for some this call to “block” offensive posts can very easily be seen by advocates of free speech as militating against the very ideals of such platforms, namely that there is no censorship.
The twist of course being that the average individual lives by moral codes that would be universally applicable, and this is apparently not so considering the #Facebook rape campaign that has been launched: Facebook rape is cool for some.
It is in essence a call for FB to closely look at its content policy without infringing on individual rights, yet I still find it contradictory that some still see it as a “human right” to freely express themselves on “your” wall using all sorts of “unprintable” stuff!
It is the same freedom they demand that should tell them to respect other people’s space, no?
It would be interesting to see how seriously these issues are taken in a developing country like ours where one can go to any FB page and be met by shocking stuff written in our vernacular dialects.
And remembering that ours is a land where all sorts of homophobic expression is hailed where you can label anyone you don’t not agree with and this supposedly being the ultimate insult thanks to our dear leader.
It’s a space to watch as advertising traffic also targets Zimbabwean users.
It would be quite an undertaking for people whose first language is not English to have a lobby at that scale as seen by the #Facebook rape campaign.
But then Facebook, has already made “promises to train its content moderators (and an entire planet of actual users) to flag and remove violent content.”
Despite such things as “blocking abusive user” some comments can still be found on some pages administered by Zimbabweans, and a case in point could well be the one launched after Big Brother housemates were announced with a page created to vote out Zimbabwe’s female rep.
It is the kind of language that Women, Action, & the Media (WAM!) who set up the #FBrape campaign want blocked from the site, but has become part of an acceptable lexicon despite what is seen by many as the unapologetic chauvinism that accompanies it. It is curious that some of the comments have been attributed to female followers of Big Brother! Solidarity, no?
Facebook has already made a commitment to keep vigilant, however admitting that “these are complicated challenges and raise complex issues. Our recent experience reminds us that we can’t answer them alone.”
And by that they mean these questions will be answered with the help of rapists who prowl the FB looking for victims!
Are we men yet?
I saw this billboard going up on the Borrowdale Road the other day. Aside from my persistent question about the disconnect between the growing number of billboards littering Harare’s streets (city revenue, presumably) and the consistent poor quality of things like pothole repair and road maintenance (absence of city spending), this one caught my eye for another reason.
Okay, so I can read – So I can tell it’s an ad for Raylite Batteries. But what is that woman in the red dress doing in the advert? Like, what does she have to do with the battery? The answer, of course, is nothing. But hey – sex sells, so sexy women sell, so if I put a sexily dressed (faceless, irrelevant, dehumanised) woman up there on the billboard in the general proximity of my battery, my battery, presumably, will also sell.
I note the slogan is “Never add water! Just fit and forget.” Presumably that’s the battery they’re talking about, not the woman.
Zimbabwe’s economy now ranked in the top 10 in Africa but hang on, how come there aren’t any jobs? Kenyan MPs, already among the highest paid in the world, vote to raise their salaries. Death toll of SA soldiers attacked in Central African Republic has risen to 15. Ngugi wa Thiong’o says that after 50 years, unity is still an African dream but a dream is better than nothing. Civil society exclusions dampen mood at AU summit.Russia gives anti-aircraft missiles to Syria; EU suspends arms embargo to rebels. Ashley Cole to captain England against Republic of Ireland tonight. Kolo Touré to become first Liverpool player from Côte d’Ivoire. The BBC’s DJ Edu says Daima by Eric Wainaina is one of the chart-toppers that’s kept Africa hot; what’s your top tune?