Editorial: Lessons from the sex scandal-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
AlMOST everybody in Cebu has views on the latest “scandal” to hit cyberspace and, to a certain extent, traditional media. Local government officials, law enforcers, and the ordinary Juans and Juanas have said their piece on the matter.
But listening to the comments makes one recall the great thinker Albert Einstein’s warning that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” (To be fair, he added that “a lot” of knowledge is dangerous, too.)
Online discussion of the sex scandal, for example, is a mix of facts, unconfirmed claims, and even lies. The one credible source of information is the video footage that is being viewed by the curious and feasted on by the malicious.
Meanwhile, traditional media is also limited by rules on fairness. The students in the video couldn’t be named and, to shield their schools from ridicule, these were not identified in reports. That posed problems in follow-ups, especially in getting reactions from those involved.
The result is a dearth of data that makes public discussion on the scandal vulnerable to erroneous interpretation and rumor-mongering.
Text messages saying that the female student involved in the scandal had committed suicide were, for example, spread yesterday. This became “believable” only because the public didn’t know her personality and character. That changed when she allowed herself to be interviewed by reporters with her lawyer in tow.
As for the malicious comments and of the video being feasted on by the sex-addled, that goes with the territory that is the public arena and cyberspace. That is not to say that those acts are justifiable. It’s merely stating a fact, one that makes calls for decency difficult to follow by everybody.
We can continue to find ways to help those involved in the sex scandal deal with the backlash of the spread of the video. But those efforts can only go so far. Because of this, focus should also be on the mining of the lessons from this incident.
Warnings have been made, for example, against recording acts that should be kept private. But if a couple could not quell the urge to do so (the woman in the sex scandal said she had no regrets recording their sexual act), they should take extra precautions to prevent the recording from being uploaded in the internet.
As for government agencies tasked to deal with cybercrime, it is time for them to straighten out their act. They should show that they have the technical know-how enough to enforce our laws in cyberspace.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 07, 2013.