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How Free is The World Press Today? Part 4

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

For more than a decade, I’ve been getting two sets of Happy Birthday greetings in May – the first on May 9 and the second on the actual day.

Why? Because sometime, somehow, somewhere, someone provided the input for all machines attached to Facebook to eternally continue misleading the world about my birthday.

And it’s so-very-well-believed by so many that when I tell some “May 9 is not my birthday”, they’d simply reply (very visibly disbelieving) “But it’s on Facebook…” or “It came up on my Google calendar!”
That undeniable and doubtless believability in Facebook, Google and the other search engines and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has always worried IT Cavemen like me, who’ve long seen it dangerously abused – and being seen as a growing threat to global humanoids.

I’m not talking about the robots now frightening the likes of Elon Musk and the hundred-or-so other IT pioneers who recently signed a joint public statement warning it may soon be too late to regulate the machines.

Instead, I’m talking about the masked criminal-minded IT sharpshooters living off assassinating characters from a safe distance by knowingly spreading manufactured lies with telescopic accuracy.
Here’s my latest example…

A friend sent me a copy of a strange post earlier this week about a highly-reputable local business house, purporting to be a Hot News item from a reputable local online media house.
She was concerned because her family has owned shares in that business even before she was born.
Something in my eyes found the copied post strange, because, while it looked real, it lacked even the most basic elements of good reporting.

I’m not the best at judging IT things, but the inquiring mind in my commoner’s brain just kept ticking and tingling, telling me something was definitely not right – but I just couldn’t figure it out…

Then it hit home!

My mind asked me: Why was this post from a media house photographed and shared this harder (copy-and-paste) way, instead of through one of those quicker and more popular light-blue lines called a ‘link’?

I went to the media house’s website and searched high-and-low for the original text supposedly photographed, but to no avail; so, I asked three friends who basically live online to help – and they too couldn’t find it…

My red light started flashing.

I did a little digging and – within minutes – I was able to confirm my suspicion: FAKE NEWS!

Indeed, the media house quoted by name NEVER carried the post being circulated in its name. That post was just a pure-and-simple but very-dangerous fabrication aimed at creating panic among the business’ shareholders – nothing more, nothing less…

So then, the big question: How is it possible for something so bold-faced like this happen with impunity?
Under normal circumstances, it would be illegal to knowingly fabricate and deliberately spread disinformation injurious to the health and well-being of a person.

Likewise, any company that can prove it’s been a victim of such conspiratorial and devious actions has the right to take legal action against the perpetrator.

But then, the Internet is not normally normal, balanced, or equitably accessible – and such faceless perpetrators do get away with impunity by hiding behind the virtual masks provided by the self-governing ISPs.

Just like every gallon of gas is measured at the pump, every internet post is registered on a ‘device’ and embedded in a ‘cloud’ and fully accessible to by the service provider, so it’s more of a matter of their will to protect persons and/or entities deliberately defamed, through their channels.

I’ve heard ISPs argue that both accused and victims are their clients and they need to protect one from the other, but, as in this case, this is neither a reason nor an excuse, as it also provides a permanent Open Sesame season for those up-to-no-good sons-of-a-gun to damage and destroy others’ characters to-the-max – and getaway Scot Free.

Just as it cannot be right for the internet to be so powerful as to make people want to suggest I don’t know my birthday, it can’t be right either for anyone to have a right to so brazenly and calculatedly abuse the guaranteed protection of service providers to engage in such malicious and detrimental online behavior.

Press Freedom is one thing, but abuse of those freedoms should be unpardonable because of the ease with which one post can solve many problems, but another can so easily take a life, or start a war.

Interestingly, in the early 1990s when the Internet started to spread through the world-wide-web (w.w.w.), most Caribbean concern was about the ease with which children (already acknowledged like having microchips in their blood) would have been able to access ‘porn’ (pornography) online, leading to introduction of failsafe Parental Guidance measures that never really worked.

Three decades later, grandchildren are home IT advisors, some able to hack Pentagon websites, others able to develop new apps (applications) that quickly help solve old problems, while a handful of IT-savvy adults use their fortunate access to the luxury of internet life and times to assassinate characters and destroy lives, whether through spiteful vengeance, or just for fun.

As I’ve always held and said, in this the supposed Age of The Internet of Things, IT is the latest potent weapon that just keeps evolving faster than the majority of Humankind can keep up with and the capacity for abuse is so real and deadly, yet invisible.
Like a knife, IT can be used to spread butter or stab a wound; and like a gun, it can be used to defend or attack, protect and secure or harm and kill.

And while it cannot be kept out of the hands of the wrong people, the wrong they do with IT should not be automatically forever be forgiven, supposedly in the name of protection, especially when used to plan and knowingly cause harm to others.