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Death by Social Media: Leave Nelson Mandela alone!

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Ameyaw Says

Death by Social Media: Leave Nelson Mandela alone!

Since the phenomenon of social media hit the world, we have had to change the way we get and use information. From twitter to Facebook to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), sharing information has become quick, convenient, accessible and well not often very reliable.

As the world continues to discuss the pros and cons of social media, the impact on television, newspapers and media as we know it cannot be overlooked. Award winning movies have been made out of the phenomenon; elections have been won through it, and people have lost the jobs and reputations through it.

In recent times, social networks have been used to replace traditional forms of obituaries in a most unfortunate way. Many renowned people have been killed many times before their deaths via social media.  I don’t know about the cultures and traditions of other countries but in Ghana we don’t spread rumours about death because it isn’t just ominous but also a sign of wickedness and disrespect for the life and family of the person.

Within the first half of 2011, there has been viral spreading of news concerning the death of celebrities like Jackie Chan, Beyonce, Bow Wow and others often generated via fake websites that pass off as sites for news channels and agencies like CNN, Associate Press etc.  Sometimes the news is also generated from no source and it keeps spreading via tweets and broadcasts on social networks. [pullquote]Social media is a beautiful thing if not used to spread falsehood, fear and panic. Before you share news or a link on any social network, at least verify from reliable sources.  Respect the person your spread information about, respect their families, and respect the people you share your information! No more death by social media. [/pullquote]

African icons haven’t been left out of the madness.  Iconic South African activist, humanitarian and former President, Nelson Mandela has been the most victimized from Africa. There has been such news of his death twice this year already and it makes one wonder why people wish the kind-hearted Madiba dead.  Please respect the living and leave the poor man to live in peace and die when his time is due! Nigerian music star 2face Idibia hasn’t been spared either.  It makes me wonder the motive people have for spreading such vile rumours, and are we that hungry for information that people want to tell us things that don’t even exist?

A weird twist and the opposite happened to Nigerian comedian and actor, Sam Loco when he passed away earlier in August. In his case, when the news of his death was made, social media wanted to bring him back to life when rumours started spreading fast that Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) has announced that the actor was still alive and that he was falsely pronounced dead when he entered into coma. Complete disrespect to the dead and the family of Sam Loco! Even star Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji bought into the deception and tweeted on her official Twitter page that Sam Loco was still alive. She later had to come back and apologize for spreading such falsehood.

Social media is a beautiful thing if not used to spread falsehood, fear and panic. Before you share news or a link on any social network, at least verify from reliable sources.  Respect the person your spread information about, respect their families, and respect the people you share your information! No more death by social media.

Ameyaw Kissi Debrah, known professionally as Ameyaw Debrah, is a Ghanaian celebrity blogger, freelance journalist, and reporter.

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