When I was learning the basics of computer science back in 1987, I came across the acronym GIGO, which stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out.
Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) in the field of computer science or information and communications technology refers to the fact that computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data “garbage in” and produce nonsensical output “garbage out”.
Today, the social media is abuzz with a video showing 3 or more kids beating up one of their classmates. I will not share the video or other details about it here. I am sure you can and will find a way to view it.
I am bothered by the ferocity of anger unleashed towards these kids. I am especially bothered that the video and personal details of the alleged bullies are freely shared on the internet, often accompanied by scathing remarks, threats of physical harm and foul, abusive language. In some comments, highly inappropriate and at times, sexually-explicit and menacing words were used.
If, upon reading this, you google the video and become enraged by what you see and want to click the share button in your quest for justice for the victim – STOP.
- The kids are minors; by doing so we are violating their privacy and rights and disseminating incriminating evidence that may hamper and tamper with investigation by the authorities. It is specifically provided in the Child Act 2001 Section 15 that states “The name, address or educational institution or any particulars calculated to lead to the identification of any child so concerned shall not be revealed, recorded or published in any newspaper or transmitted through any digital medium.” Minors are protected from being publicly named in the media or court records for a reason – it is by far better to protect the identities of both the victims and the alleged perpetrators than to publicize and ruin the lives of those who are innocent; which brings me to my next point.
- The person (which I shall refer to as “The Hacker”) who disclosed the names, contact details and photos of these alleged bullies has publicly admitted that he has WRONGLY identified 2 of the kids. These two kids now are under enormous strain and are bombarded with insults, threats etc from all over the internet, simply because someone thought they looked like the perpetrators in the video. While The Hacker had admitted his mistake, apologised publicly and asked for people to stop bothering these kids, the damage is done. And it is a huge damage. Til right the second this post is written, I still see lots of people in the social network sharing this gross (mis)information and saying all sorts of awful things about these two innocent kids. This is not okay.
- The perpetrators have been caught – the school, the District Education Office and PDRM had confirmed this. Appropriate corrective actions will be taken, including dismissal. They will not and do not get away with this. Have trust that justice will be served according to the laws prescribed in handling such matters.
You may think oh Ijah you are such a hypocrite. I read your post slamming Noor Afizal. Why weren’t you concerned about HIS rights?
Firstly, he wasn’t a minor when he committed the offence. He was 18. An adult by law, and by physical nature.
Secondly, he is not an alleged rapist, he WAS a rapist. Noor Afizal was found guilty of statutory rape of a 13 year old girl. Whether the sex was consensual is immaterial. He had sex with a minor. That is statutory rape, and the Courts agreed. Statutory rape laws are put into place with the intention of protecting young girls from falling prey to older men. These laws are meant to protect children. They were not intended to absolve men from blame of having sexual intercourse with underage girls.
Thirdly, my objections towards Noor Afizal is not merely about his despicable act, but also towards the judiciary system. The rationale of the Court of Appeal for its decision included among other considerations the fact that Noor Afizal is a national bowler meant public interest would not be served if he was sent to jail as he had a bright future ahead of him.
I do not have any sympathies for the alleged bullies. I certainly have no sympathies for Noor Afizal.
However, I am concerned and will speak up to defend children’s rights. When the system breaks and we become citizen reporters without being responsible, we can ruin lives and make it difficult for children of the future to protect their privacy and rights when it is being violated, unintended as it may be. It will do more harm than good, especially for those who are in need and rely on the system to protect them such as victims of heinous crimes like sex trafficking and domestic abuse.
There is a lot of good things on the internet, but there is also a lot of garbage. As a technologically-savvy society with access to information, we should stop for a moment and take the time to sift facts from fiction and at the same time respect the laws of the land that we live in.
Quest for justice is good. Quest for justice using wrong information which leads to the wrong conclusion and ends up with us victimizing the very people we are so worked-up to protect is harmful. Sometimes it takes years to undo the damage. Sometimes the damage can never be undone.
Think about that the next time you feel like being a crusader for justice and clicking the Share button.
Feel free to disagree.