Mark Wignall

Mark Wignall

AS the Internet exploded exponentially in the late 1990s, so did social media in the next decade and beyond. As soon as its marketing potential to build brands and to solidify well-earned reputations was recognised and utilised, so did the downside rear its ugly head.

Digital media has become common place and social media accounts have been taken up by almost everyone. From Facebook, to Twitter, to WhatsApp to Instagram and Snapchat, Jamaicans are right up there with the behaviour of developed societies when it comes to social media.

Social media is used quite frequently by businesses, events and entrepreneurs to promote all aspects of their business. Social media has revolutionised the way people communicate and socialise on the Web.

But, as I said, it has a dark side. Cyber-bullying, loss of privacy and fake news have become more prevalent. Recent utterances by Proven’s Chris Williams re “Lattes for the middle class” attracted backlash, just as a Lasco social media post about champion athlete, Omar McLeod, tried to negatively drag him down a few years ago when he was at the very top of his profession. Then Lascelles Chin of Lasco stepped up immediately and booted the employee who posted the rubbish.

Preaching and dancing policemen, as well as a gun-toting security guard, have all received significant negative exposure on social media.

The US Navy hospital ship also took a hard hit, when a member of the public decided to create a social media video “informing” people the ship was in Jamaica to, as she said “kill off black people”. Then later there was a fake video being pushed of a ship on fire by the docks. It was said that Jamaicans had set the hospital ship afire.

Products have also taken a hit. Magnum Tonic Wine was hit with a fake viral video re fake Magnum that infiltrated thousands of devices across the region. Similarly, children’s drink brand, Kool Kidz, recently rebranded its product line and reduced its sugar content, in an effort to make the product healthier for its young consumers. Though the changes were made for the right reasons, consumers began to boycott the product, saying it’s fake and should not be bought.

Why would we need to involve our children, already under all sorts of social media pressures, in this fakery? What was the motive?

Additionally, warnings have been made through various WhatsApp groups to schools and the youth, to purchase alternate juice options. These disingenuous utterances have had a tremendous negative impact resulting in loss of business and a hard hit to reputations across the board.

Losing a customer due to poor customer service pales in comparison to a viral video or social media post that can possibly reach hundreds of thousands of persons. It has the potential to rack up millions of dollars in losses for businesses and damage to personal or company reputation that may be irreversible.

From last week to now just about every other person with a half decent smart phone was showing two viral WhatsApp posts about two Jamaican politicians. Many people I spoke with were torn between being perplexed and the usual, if-it-nuh-go-so-it-it-near-go-so. This is very dangerous use of social media.

A recent piece from Reuters said, “Dozens of people in India have been detained on suspicion of publishing inflammatory social media posts...” after a Supreme Court ruling.

Here in Jamaica, we have the freedom to build up and to tear down through social media but where is the responsibility? One of the dangers I am sensing is that many of our people are increasingly seeing these abuses of social media purely as empowerment.

—Jamaica Gleaner


Ever sat down to do business with a convicted mass murderer, still on the loose? That’s likely to be the experience for Caricom heads of government for the next few years.

The legendary French economist Frederic Bastiat had a simple method for telling a good economist from a bad one. A bad economist only takes into consideration the visible effect of policies. 

TOMORROW will mark the first anniversary of the return of Buju Banton to his home, Jamaica, and to the welcoming arms of his overjoyed fans globally. Buju’s return to “yaad” from that crucial period of exile stands as an important moment in Jamaica’s musical and cultural history, and underscores a critical component of his ascendance to the true halls of legendary status within Jamaica’s musical landscape.

The poisoning of cats and dogs is becoming all too prevalent. Animal welfare laws must address the poisoning of animals. Any amendment to current legislation should “specifically outlaw the deliberate poisoning of an animal or placing poison where someone else’s animal is likely to eat it”. (Animal Cruelty and Neglect, Mary Randolph J.D.).

Nothing tells me more who won and who lost the local government election on Monday than the faces and reactions of those who represented their parties on TV that night.

I am disappointed and worried to see in the highest court of our country the elected members of Parliament aren’t taking the right step in finding a solution to reduce killings taking place in our country.