The Gambia Government issued a press release rubbishing rumors of a coup plot in The Gambia. The release sought to allay fears, if there were any, of the citizens of the country.
Recently, there has been a rise in WhatsApp audios spreading fake news and these often go viral. The latest one named a number of individuals, some of them prominent, and tried to implicate them in a coup d’état.
Some people have speculated that the authors of the audio were banking on, or hoping that, this government will act like its predecessor and arrest all those mentioned in the audio and interrogate them, or worse, torture them.
However, to their credit, this government acted with maturity and urgency and cleared the air. They did not rush to arrest anyone or interrogate people. This was a good thing and they reassured the citizens and told them that there was no cause for alarm.
The press release also addressed the members of the consular and diplomatic corps telling them that the state of the security of the country is under control and therefore they had nothing to worry about. This is important and therefore commendable.
The issue of social media is very complex and difficult to control. If any government seeks to control what goes on the Internet, it will appear to be dictatorial and that, in our case, will hamper the fledgling democracy that is being nurtured.
There is a fine line that government can tread without in anyway violating the rights of the people while at the same time ensuring that the security of the people is not compromised by disgruntled people who are bent on tarnishing the image of the country or its government.
There should be a strong and well-funded intelligence unit devoted to cybercrime alone. These people who seek to destabilize the country by spreading false rumors must be held accountable and if they break any laws, be made to face the consequences by following due process and respecting the rule of law.