Twit or Twitter

Written By: The Lowdown - May• 31•13

Northern 2011 09 10 DSC_5138Whether we are computer savvy or not, we have all heard about the explosion of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and how they are changing the way people communicate. Many see it as akin to the invention of the wheel, allowing them to stay in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world. For others it is an infuriating waste of time, with people posting banal and dreary details of their lives. For others, they believe these sites are full of baddies like the person who told me recently that Facebook was full of paedophiles!


Zambians have taken to Facebook and Twitter with great enthusiasm and there are a myriad of Facebook pages where Zambians are discussing politics, the economy and even road safety in an open and friendly manner.  Reading through these sites gives one a great insight into what people are thinking, what the opposing arguments are and what people are concerned about. They can also be very amusing sometimes although I have to admit to getting irritated sometimes at the posters who use what has become internet slang – these pipo drv me mad. Pliz use prpr grammar!


Twitter is another story. Each post allows for a maximum of 140 characters and often the posts are a largely useless stream of words without any context, almost reinforcing and proving Sturgeon’s Law that ‘ninety percent of everything is c**p’.


But some Twitter posters are amusing as are the responses to their posts.  For example ZESCO EXPLAINS IT which has the slogan ZESCO – Souring The Nation (a parody). Except that I believe many of the responders have not realised that the tweets (what postings are called for the uninformed) are satirical and believe that they come from ZESCO themselves.


But amusing and interesting as I find some of the posts on Facebook and Twitter, what I have realised is that many posters and tweeters do not seem to understand that by posting anything on the internet, they have effectively become publishers. And with publishing comes certain responsibilities in terms of what can or cannot be published without laying oneself open to possible legal action. Any person who posts content online is responsible for that content. And if you re-publish something which you yourself have read online, you are as responsible as the original poster. But it doesn’t end there either. If you publish something which is libellous and others repost it, you may also be held responsible for their re-posts. The message thus is very loud and clear – that the public cannot treat Twitter and Facebook as they would a casual chat in the pub.

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