Ouarzazate – After the so-called “revolution” of social media, mainly Facebook and YouTube, some buried social phenomena and societal illnesses began appearing and are now drowning our society. Chasing people’s scandals and spreading them on the Internet has become a means to destroy pride and dignity.
Whenever I browse the internet, mainly Facebook and YouTube, I always feel sick as I stumble upon people publishing pictures or videos of others with the vile aim of destroying their pride and dignity. This mean action is tolerated, to some extent, in politics; where every slip of a politician is a bullet to be used against them at any occasion. Politics is a “no rules game” where Machiavellianism is the supreme philosophy, and abiding by this rule is mandatory for politicians as well as for any public figure.
However, these public figures remain common humans when they are back from work and spend time with their families and friends. They have the right to live their lives out of sight, and publishing anything private about them is a serious crime.
Gossip and chasing scandals has always been an interesting material for many television programs such as the American OMG Insider, The Insider Edition and others. These programs track the very intimate lives of celebrities and share them with the public. The bitter fact here is that these programs score the highest viewers in the world. The corollary of the high ratings of gossip media is that people like to see others’ scandals.
On YouTube, many podcasters have also learned the trick. In order to get many viewers for your video, write an attractive title like: “watch the scandal” or “watch it before it’s removed by YouTube”. Remarkably, YouTube or other video broadcasting sites neither select nor intervene in uploading videos on the website, reflecting its slogan “broadcast yourself”. However, it leaves the responsibility of the concerned individuals to flag the videos that touch their private lives or those perceived as inappropriate. After reviewing the flags, YouTube employees decide whether the video violates the site’s terms or not.
Unfortunately, the abuses of gossip media go beyond limits and target even common people. It has become a very threatening phenomenon, especially on Facebook pages where anything is shared easily and randomly. No one is safe from these malicious behaviors. Some sick minded people have queer tendencies of chasing people’s scandals and publishing them on the internet for many illegal reasons which may range between blackmailing, revenge or just for sadistic fun.
Back to the old middle and high school days, when some boys asked girls out and the latter refused, these broken hearted boys used the walls of the school backyards, or walls of school toilets to jot down some insults against the girls’ reputation in order to vent their anger. At any rate, those dirty writings are left in far from sight until time or paint erases them. This behavior is not only something of the past because it still exists today, but on more sophisticated walls that can neither easily be destroyed nor painted, as it was the case with school walls.
Recently, some kinds of Facebook pages, called “scoops” have been circulating among youngsters in Morocco, where pictures of many victims of this libeling offence are published. Dishonoring photos of many girls are published by their “ex-boyfriends” or even by other mean girls and boys with malicious intentions. Sometimes, administrators of the page may publish photo-shopped, or even a “normal” photo, but out of its context, in order to ignite some suspicion about the victim. The worst is that some visitors of these pages do not spare the opportunity to leave their fingerprints by a sordid comment without even knowing the victim of such a slander.
Unfortunately, these obscene pages invade our network. Every city in Morocco has its own defamatory page where some dirty laundry is aired. Common examples include “Scoop Marrakech”, “Scoop Casablanca”…etc. Some Adolescents perceive this defamation as a competition to show which city is publishing more scoops.
Our prophet Mohamed (PBUH) strongly banned chasing peoples’ scandals in the Hadith, as narrated by Abou Dawud: “Do not back-bite Muslims, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault, and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in his house”. With such a clear religious law, we are supposed to be examples of virtue by not exposing others’ privates.
Defamation and exposing others’ fault has always been a crime in Moroccan law, but with the new technology and media, this law has coped with the new changes to fit the new forms of defamation crimes such as cyber defamation crimes. For this reason, and since 2003, the Moroccan legal arsenal has been supported by relatively detailed laws that condemn these electronic crimes. One of the main aims of this law is strengthening the legal protection of children and women. This legislation has amended and completed some provisions in criminal law, especially those related to the protection of family system and public morality.
No matter how firm these laws are they cannot heal the harm caused by the irresponsible and vicious actions, which mostly end up ruining lives. And, everybody remembers the Marrakchi mother who attempted to commit suicide because of the trauma caused by some indecent photos of her daughter on a Facebook page.
Being conservative and seeking openness is a very complicated equation in our society. These two paradoxical facts cannot get along. No matter how open we think we are, we still cannot overcome this reality. In our patriarchal society, the honor of any family, tribe or even city is measured by the honor of its females. No matter how decadent a male is, he is tolerated and all his evil deeds are reduced to a mere indiscretion; whereas a trivial slip of a girl or even a rumor about her is considered a huge scandal.
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