Publishing offensive materials on social media is punishable by law- Audrey Gadzekpo

Associate Professor at the School of Communications Studies, University of Ghana, Audrey Gadzekpo has called for ethical journalism in the wake of social media proliferation.

She said social media platforms such as Facebook, twitter, whatsapp, the World Wide Web, text messages and others have become integral in news gathering operations, but potentially offensive with many obscene materials.

Speaking on Audrey’s Take on Multi TV the Associate professor said the offenders will be dealt with under the law.

Already two people have been jailed for publishing nude pictures of their girlfriends.

 Audrey Gadzekpo was hosting Assisting News Editor at Joy FM, Evans Mensah, Miss Kinna Likimani of Blogging Ghana and Collins Agyeman Sarpong, a procurement specialist and an avid consumer of the traditional media on Audrey’s Take, Sunday.

Commenting on a recent publications of a picture of the remains of the late P.V Obeng, Gadzekpo added that, it was unethical and totally unnecessary.

She emphasised that, in some context, ‘you publish the picture of a dead person if the manner of death is part of the story’. What is important is to verify the information gathered and publish an old picture of the deceased person, she indicated.

She said even when news breaks in social media because it is immediate, most people rely on traditional news to give affirmation, credibility, legitimacy and context to the real story.

Evans Mensah admitted that, social media has rather become the first port of call, setting the agenda by breaking the news and giving leads to traditional media to verify and refine the news.

He again admitted that, the traditional role of the media – to inform, educate and entertain has now shifted to ‘attracting and holding large audiences for advertisers’, thereby compromising ethical standards. The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) code of ethics, according to him, is outdated and needs to be revised, bearing in mind, the influence of social media and what constitutes an infringement.

Kinna, in her submission, urged parents to introduce and regulate the use of social media by their children.

 She added that, social media is a very powerful and important tool, that give citizens a platform to express their thoughts on important developmental issues and sets the agenda.

She however stressed that; these platforms can be fairly regulated if people begin to pay attention to what they consume, who they follow, block unwanted persons, comments and publications from their space.

She was particularly worried about offensive and criminal behaviour, such as pornography on social media, a situation that could harm children, and encouraged people to report such content to the appropriate authorities.

Mr. Collins Sarpong on his part advised the media not to be hasty in their publications. He also charged the media to be mindful of obscenity and respect a person’s dignity and right to privacy.

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