Despite all the shortcomings, social media has and still continues to play a social role in information dissemination in Ghana and beyond. In the form of text and audio, channeled through social media have helped to change the lifestyles of people. Unfortunately, despite the crucial role it is playing in our daily lives, social media, as we noted in this column previously, is becoming a tool in the hands of unscrupulous people, which they are using to thwart the forward march of this country.
Pranksters are now using social media as a façade to churn out all manner of untruthful stories, which unsuspecting people are swallowing with alacrity. Ghana is practicing the unitary system of government and not federal, a section of social media users believed information that went viral that the federal government was going to lock down because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Also, following the earlier announcement that President Akufo-Addo would be addressing the nation to update the nation on the Covid-19, news again went viral on the same social media platforms that the President was going to announce the lock down of the country, and that nobody would be allowed to move out from his or her home until further notice.
This, together with an earlier announcement by the Ministry of Local Government that all markets in Accra would not be open today to pave way for fumigation, resulted in panic buying on Saturday. Information available to us, coupled with pictorial evidence shown by some of the television stations, indicate that human traffic in markets was so thick that movement was a challenge.
Traders in these markets in Accra-Madina, Agbogbloshie, Makola, Malata, Ashaiman – were happy because a lot of their wares were sold. But whilst jubilating over this ‘bumper harvest’, the traders failed to appreciate the risk factor.
According to experts, the Coronavirus is transmitted through close and body contact, and with the record crowds that visited the markets, the possibility of spreading the disease among traders and their patrons cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, the statement issued by the Local Government Ministry was clear that the fumigation exercise would be opened Monday, and that the markets would be opened today Tuesday. But, because people believe in news circulating on social media than the traditional media, which is well controlled, at least by the ethics of journalism profession, they invaded the markets like ‘bees’ for fear that the President would truly lock down the country.
We have taken our time to express concern about the attitudes of those using social media, because if care is not taken, the pressing of the panic button alone can lead to the escalation of the disease among Ghanaians.
Unfortunately, calling for a ban of social media is not an option The Chronicle would advocate, even though some countries have taken that bold decision. What we can do is to, once again, appeal to the conscience of the users of social media to be mindful of the information they circulate.
The Chronicle also calls on Ghanaians to pay attention to information supplied by the traditional media, instead of relying on social media, whose users are not professionally trained to disseminate information.
Though some of the traditional media do the worst form of what social media is doing, at least, the offenders can be located and punished or brought to book. The fight against Covid-19 is a serious matter, and those who try to joke with it must not be spared the rod of punishment. What is going on in Italy, where human beings are dying like fowls, should not be allowed to happen here in Ghana.
We do not even have the crematorium to handle disposal of large volume of bodies, and allowing people to bury their loved ones who die of the disease can even exacerbate the already volatile situation. We must all, therefore, be alert and stop the disinformation going on in social media.
Source: The Chronicle