Warning against posting, sharing defamatory content on social media

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) — Attorney General Garth Wilkin is warning citizens against posting and sharing defamatory statements on social media.

"I encourage everyone to refrain from participating in the toxic elements of social media. When you see posts defaming people on Facebook and WhatsApp, do not forward or share them," said Wilkin, who is also the minister of justice and legal affairs.

He said that 99 per cent of the time the statements posted on social media "are not true and are created by nefarious characters who only focus on creating harm and chaos in our society, most of whom cannot use their real names on their accounts".

The attorney general said that the Electronic Crimes Act criminalises "unlawful communications", and that it states if "a person without lawful excuse or justification knowingly uses a computer system to send a message, letter, or electronic communication that is obscene; constitutes a threat; or is menacing in character to a recipient and intends to cause the recipient or any other person… to feel intimidated, molested, harassed or threatened, he commits an offence".

According to the legislation, a person convicted under the Act is liable on summary conviction to a fine of EC$10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of 12 months, or to both fine and imprisonment.

The legislation also makes it an offence for a person to publish or forward the message, letter or electronic communication, and as a result that person could be fined and imprisoned.

"We must do better as a society to stop the gossiping and online bullying. Do your part by leaving that toxicity alone. Do not allow it to spread. Focus on positivity and national development by exalting others, by clapping when a person does well, by encouraging when a person has a setback.

"Everyone is entitled to have their reputation preserved and not tarnished by false accusations. A defamatory statement is one which injures the reputation of another person and tends to lower him or her in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally," Wilkin added.

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