“Character assassins,” “murderers,” P.M. says

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 10 May 2018, 12:00AM

“Faceless writers” who use social media, especially Facebook, for “character assassination” have been compared to “murderers” and members of terrorism organisation I.S.I.S.

The comparison was made by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi during his weekly media programme.

“People who are using social media to inflict so much hurt are the same as murderers in Arab countries,” Tuilaepa said. 

“The only difference is that here they are killing people by assassinating their characters but in Arab countries, they are shooting them with guns.”

Tuilaepa has recently returned from London where Commonwealth countries have unanimously committed to take action on cybersecurity between now and 2020.

The decision following a landmark declaration announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where 53 leaders agreed to work to evaluate and strengthen their cybersecurity frameworks and response mechanisms.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa hailed the steps taken by the Commonwealth countries.

Back in Samoa, Tuilaepa said that while he was in London, he learned that the problem of people abusing social media and internet forums is not confined to Samoa.

“When it comes to the issue of online technology, all fifty three countries (of the Commonwealth) are affected by social media problems.”

Tuilaepa said the problems range from character assassinations to the growing number of unfounded allegations.

“These people are like I.S.I.S. in their thinking,” he said. “Their goal is to break up governments. They like to stir up hate, create anxiety, start fights. What it does is that it makes people hate their leaders.”

The Prime Minister added that these people like to find topics that incite emotional responses from their readers.

“They go after sensitive topics like land and the like. So (in London) we were warned to be alert about the many different ways where the enemy is using to attack us to break up governments.

“It is not a good thing, misusing and abuse of communication means that are meant to help development. There are people who are misusing these things to fabricate damaging allegations against other people.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa has been extremely critical of faceless writers who have been using Facebook and other online means to attack his Government. In a bid to put a stop to it, Tuilaepa has even threatened to black Facebook completely from Samoa.

 “Character assassination is worst than murder,” he said.

“The thing is that you can see that although the person is alive, he is dead. I thought it was just Samoa where this is happening, but it’s happening to all countries. 

“God will deal with these people… there are many people who are praying for the betterment of Samoa.”

In London, the Commonwealth Cyber declaration is the world’s largest and most geographically diverse inter-governmental commitment on cybersecurity cooperation. 

It followed an announcement by the UK government to pledge up to £15 million to help Commonwealth countries strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities and ‘tackle criminal groups and hostile state actors who pose a global threat to security, including in the UK’.

Speaking after the announcement, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said, “Cyberspace opens up new opportunities for socio-economic development by broadening common space and extending access. 

“There is immense fresh potential for the multiple layers of Commonwealth connection to be used for the common good. 

“The many positive benefits that can be derived are easily undermined and subverted by cybercrime, which has no respect for national boundaries. Commonwealth member countries are working together to strengthen their capacity, individually and collectively, to detect and guard against the debilitating threats cybercrime poses to all many aspects of national, regional and international security.”

With the internet increasingly central to global commerce, the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration sets out a shared vision of cyberspace in areas such as economic and social development, and online rights. 

The declaration is also an important step for Commonwealth small states, which account for 31 of the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries.

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 10 May 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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