Legal practitioner Egbert Faibille Jnr says Ghana’s current laws are insufficient in tackling a growing culture of defamation on social media, a virtual world gone wild.
He said new laws must be passed to tame the massive communication tool which is largely unregulated.
Social media platforms could be banned on election day November 7, according to the Inspector General of Police John Kudalor who floated the suggestion last week.
The IGP expressed fears that misinformation, provocative and defamatory comments on social media could spark violence.
The virtual world has responded in disagreement with tweets, posts and comments condemning the suggestion as an abuse of fundamental right to free speech.
Egbert Faibille joined in rejecting the proposal, but admited that the irresponsible use of social media is causing serious damage to reputations and also exposing children to pornographic images.
“All kinds of things are happening on social media”, he observed on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday.
Ghana, he said, needs a “very, very specific law to deal with social media issues”.
Although there is the Electionic Transactions Act to regulate electronic communication, Egebrt pointed out that social media is a game-changer that needs specialized laws.
One such law needed is the defamation law, which Egbert lamented, has been pending at cabinet “for donkey years”.
The Ghanaian Observer newspaper managed by Egbert Faibille Jnr reported on the defamation bill nine years ago.
In 2007, the newspaper carried a story that the bill could be sent to parliament for consideration and passage “in the coming days”.
The Defamation Bill is government's response to a recommendation made by the Law Reform Commission to the Attorney General as far back as 1984 that the country's law on defamation as it exists must be clarified and reformed.
Clause 1 of the Defamation Bill which covers who is liable for defamation provides that: “A person is liable for defamation where by spoken words or any other sounds, writing, printing, effigy, paintings, gestures or any other methods signifying meaning, that person publishes defamatory matter concerning another person without lawful justification.”
At the time of the bill, the main concern for the media was the phenomenon of serial callers who often call into radio programmes to insult and slander others.
Serial texters also text to spew libelous comments at defenceless individuals.
But nine years on, the serial callers phenemon has been overtaken by a new sub-culture of libel on social media.
At least, two people were injured from machete attack on 20 May 2016 in violence sparked by a facebook post.