Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu
A Supreme Court nominee, Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, has stated that rules regulating traditional media must be applied to social media to rid the country of fake news which is driving down the quality of journalism in Ghana.
According to her, a regulatory action in social media would place a legal duty of care on producers of social media contents so as to prevent abuse and circulation of fake news.
Issues of privacy invasion and data scandals have led to calls for social media companies to be regulated.
Even though social media has offered its users the opportunity to exercise far greater control over the media they wish to consume and participate, it is said that bloggers and social media entrepreneurs have a more casual attitude towards fact-checking.
Prof. Mensa-Bonsu, therefore, wants the social media content producers to bring in stricter checks, indicating that social media has undermined one of the most fundamental assumptions that “book no lie.”
Responding to questions from members of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, the law lecturer said, “So whatever we saw in writing it was the truth because there was gatekeeping in print media. Now everybody is a citizen journalist, and so there is no gatekeeping role anymore.”
She noted that it now difficult to trust what one sees or comes across on social media because it lacks self-regulation which is often seen as a solution to challenges against freedom of the digital space.
“The young people always tease us – the bbc (born before computer) people – that we are the worst offenders of sending and forwarding fake news because we were trained in a system where when you receive something in that way it was true,” she explained.
The nominee said “today is a different world where people can do creative writing and can start passing it on as non-fiction. So rules regulating traditional media must be applied to social media.”
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House