A female blogger recently got arrested for publishing fake news about Ghanaian movie actor Lil’ Win. How I got to hear of this news is actually funny. My Mom texted me about a possible legislation to charge bloggers who publish fake news $50,000 and that it was being discussed on JoyFm’s GhanaConnect with Evans Mensah   . I wasn’t sure if it was a well-meaning text or an fyi 😂😂. I tuned in to the Facebook Live [ VIDEO BELOW] to get more context on the story.

I was very dismayed and angry. Dismayed because an innocent man’s  reputation had been slandered by an over-eager impatient blog-traffic-obsessed blogger and angry because such a careless act has the potential of destroying the hard-work some of us real bloggers have put into getting the respect of the business industry. How can we expect brands to take us seriously when others are using fake news and reputation-damaging click-bait headlines to generate traffic ?

As I listened to Ohemaa’s explanation on what happened I couldn’t help but be more incensed about her insensitivity and premature move to publish a story without having real facts. Dear lady, blogging isn’t about sensationalism like you have been led to believe. I went on her blog ghsplash.com to see exactly what she writes about and I wasn’t surprised to see it was more of a gossip and scandal site with nothing of value to offer readers than konkonsa which of course most Ghanaians thrive on. I guess gossip is of value to some people.

Evans Mensah asked why she blogs and honestly her response wasn’t encouraging. ” I just love blogging!” It just shows how she just jumped into blogging because other people are doing it. She obviously doesn’t have any blog strategy or have any clue on what it takes to be a blogger. Same can be said to many others who see blogging as just an avenue to make money without having a content strategy in mind. I was actually surprised to hear her say she couldn’t provide analytics on the number of people who had read the falsely fabricated article when her blog publicly displays views per article. And what did she mean by not being interested in the monetisation aspect of blogging when she’s actually running ads on the site? My dear Ohemaa, stop lying. You know what you did and what it would have led to i.e ad revenue.

I hope her one night stay in jail made her rethink her ways about to be a better blogger who’s not out to ruin people’s lives with fake news. If you don’t have the facts about a story what enters your mind to actually type out the words without a second thought on the implications of your actions? I actually applaud the move to have her arrested to serve as a deterrent to other bloggers who think they can get away with publishing any kind of content to gain traffic.

Sadly, click-baiting is a deliberate strategy adopted by most bloggers in Ghana to increase blog traffic. Click-bait in itself is not wrong but when the content of the post is misleading, slandering, misinforming then that’s where the issue is and I totally support any legislation to charge bloggers for such fabricated actions. Bloggers need to be responsible and be held accountable for their actions.

Kenya has already taken steps to curb the spread of fake news by bloggers by passing a bill which criminalises cyberbullying and fake news publications which is an aspect of cybercrime. Should Ghana follow the lead of Kenya?  I ask you.

Sadly we are in a time where people read sensational headlines and the first paragraph and immediately jump to conclusion without reading the whole article. The misleading article would immediately be shared on WhatsApp groups to get the post viral. No verification just an eagerness to be the first to publish.

Bloggers should start using the Three Gates of Speech before publishing a story,

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”

At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

~ Rumi

Blogging is about being authentic and honest in the expression of one’s opinion. Your opinion is definitely yours but get concrete facts to support your written thoughts.

What we choose to publish will always have a positive or negative impact on society and that should always be at the forefront of our minds before hitting the publish button.