Potraz Takes Action Against Cyberbullying and Hate Speech

May 2, 2024
POTRAZ has acknowledged prevalence of cyberbullying and hate speech particularly on social media platforms like X formerly Twitter | Report Focus News
POTRAZ has acknowledged prevalence of cyberbullying and hate speech, particularly on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter)

Potraz is taking proactive steps to combat cyberbullying and hate speech. The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) vows to lead a firm crackdown on those engaging in these harmful behaviours, ensuring that online platforms fostering hate speech and cyberbullying become inaccessible.

Dr. Gift Machengete, the Director General of Potraz, emphasized the urgency of addressing the proliferation of hate speech and cyberbullying during the launch of findings from a Child Online Safety Survey conducted by Potraz in collaboration with the Research Council of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

He highlighted the prevalence of cyberbullying and hate speech, particularly on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter), stressing that such behavior cannot be tolerated. Dr. Machengete affirmed Potraz’s commitment to safeguarding children’s online safety and announced measures to block illicit sites, thereby controlling content and ensuring compliance with the Data Protection Act.

With the enactment of Zimbabwe’s cyber and data protection law in 2021, Potraz is empowered to establish and enforce regulations governing data collection, protection, storage, and presentation. The Cyber and Data Protection Act empowers individuals to have greater control over their personal information, processed lawfully and transparently.

Potraz now utilizes a telecommunications traffic monitoring system to track mobile phone traffic in real-time, facilitating revenue monitoring for operators. However, despite these efforts, cyberbullying remains a prevalent issue in Zimbabwe and across Africa, resulting in adverse effects such as depression, infringement on freedom of expression, and even loss of life in extreme cases.

According to a 2019 UNICEF poll, one in three young people in 30 countries reported being victims of online bullying, with one in five admitting to skipping school due to cyberbullying and violence. The rise of digital technologies has exacerbated cyberbullying, fostering an environment of social hatred and racist posts on platforms like X.

The consequences of hate speech are profound, ranging from direct assaults like threats and harassment to indirect assaults that undermine an individual’s reputation and dignity. Potraz remains committed to combating these harmful behaviours and ensuring a safer online environment for all.