Thursday, August 26, 2010
Singaporean Arrested for Anti-Government Remarks on Facebook
Singapore. (26 August 2010. 1600 hrs).
Yahoo! News Singapore today published a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on the arrest of a Singaporean for inciting violence via his Facebook postings.
The Singaporean, identified by local media as Abdul Malik Ghazali, was apparently arrested for his post on Facebook calling for Singaporeans to "burn" the sports minister and the PAP. Abdul Malik Ghazali has defended his actions by claiming that he did not mean "burn" in the literal sense and had used it as a metaphor.
Singapore's cyber-space has been set ablazed since the report was first published and a quick count of the over 400+ comments show the majority of netizens criticising the police actions and denouncing it as another ploy by the government to suppress opposition to their rule.
As I have written in my research paper, social networking websites like Friendster, FaceBook and Twitter have changed the information environment. Citizen Journalists can now reach out and influence as many individuals as professionally run news organisations. Herein lies the danger. As unlike professional journalists who abide by a code of ethics, citizen journalists are unregulated and may be motivated by personal agendas. In addition, the homogeneity of these social communities, and sense of bond among “friends” with common interests, makes these communities susceptible to being easily manipulated.
The Greek Riot in 2008 is a case in point where the death of a student, at the hands of the police, need not have degenerated into nation-wide violent protests. The incident could have remained contained pending investigations by the authorities. Unfortunately, irresponsible citizens began spreading unsubstantiated accusations of police brutality on social networking sites. This fanned anti-police sentiments which eventually spiralled out of control. Analysts are unanimous in their belief that social networking websites were the catalysts in the Greek riots of 2008.
Hence, while I believe that netizens have the right to express their views, the expression of these views must be done responsibly. The inciting of violence is definitely not one freedom I support.
In my opinion, the Police is right to investigate this case and if a crime has been committed, the appropriate actions taken.
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