Minister of Information and Communications Technology Henry Mussa expressed the concern Thursday during a familiarization tour at Telekom Networks Malawi Limited Head Offices in Blantyre.
“It has become increasingly clear that some people are misusing the social media,” Mussa said.
As examples, he noted that some people had posted details of accidents before victims’ families could be officially notified.
He added that that some people had been blackmailed via social media.
The Minister said that was why, as government, they thought it wise to engage TNM on what could be done to trace people who misuse social media.
“We engaged TNM, who are also equally concerned at the trend at which the social media is being misused in this country,” he said.
Mussa also expressed fear that the social media “might have the potential to create chaos” during elections expected to take place in May this year.
He then urged Malawians to help government in discouraging the abuse of social media.
Mussa also warned people who post false news, especially on Facebook, that they will be heavily punished because they create tension.
“This is not only about the government; it is in the interest of the entire nation. New media, if not properly managed, has the potential to take this country to an unpleasant situation,” he said.
As government, Mussa said they will not allow some people to create tension by spreading false news about others and added that the country is entitled to live in peace.
“People should take responsibility if they post something that has disaffection,” Mussa said.
“For instance, there was an incident where somebody posted false news about the death of a person who was alive. I don’t think that is the responsible way of using social media.”
The Minister said fake news on social media is a public enemy hiding behind the cover of free speech and insisted that government can no longer turn a blind eye on it.
“We want people to use social media to post things that can help in the development of the country,” he said.