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London sneezes BBM virus

Posted by: Pumelela Nqelenga

Pumelela Nqelenga


I thought when China sneezes, the world catches the cold but it seems the London madness has come down to eMzantsi with the BBM virus.

South African government are starting to panic with the Blackberry application and believe that criminal activities are done through this service.

Deputy Minister of Communications,  Obed Bapela was reported to have said that, "There is evidence that criminals are now using BBM to plan and execute crime. We want to review BBM like in the UK and Saudi Arabia,"

The minister seems to be out of touch with South African social media culture and does not understand that London is totally different than, Durban or Kimberally or Cape Town.

The way in which we consume media and communicate in South Africa is far more different than how it is happening in the in the UK.

With more cell phone users using Mxit, why are we not regulating that social media rather than BBM users who seem to be far lesser than the Mxit camp?

It baffles me that we are starting to look at cyber-security rather than working on the real crimes that affect people in the real world.

If it is criminality you want and on cyberspace, the government should look no further than New24 comments on articles where hate speech thrives for many to read.

South Africa does have its own London riot, at least twice a year with strikes across the country. In fact our London riots are in the law in that people can vandalise the street in the name of ‘freedom of expression’.

The only difference we have with the Londoners is that we South Africans do not need to hide our faces when we do these crimes on the streets. In fact we create songs around them and toyi toyi the whole day.

Where was BBM? Nowhere, since majority of South Africans are at the lower end of the digital divide.

I understand the abuse of social media and its implications, but we need to stop injecting ourselves with panic and shock when we know pretty well that it does not always take a social media tool to cause harm to people.

It only takes people.


Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Dissol, September 07, 2011
The crazy knee-jerk reactions by many British politicians (and now, following on some South African politicians) to BBM, and other social medias following the riots just shows how out of touch these "decision makers" are. Yes, some social medias were used for illegal activities...I am sure that some people even used a (gasp) phone in the normal manner too. If you ban BBM, then people will find an alternative (WhatsApp...FB...IM...Google Chat...Skype...whatever), in an instant. That is the power of Web 2.0 - it routes a solution or many solutions in an instant. Yes, some people use it for illegal activities...but then many use it for legal, & necessary activities. Various organisations were giving out info during the riots which was invaluable for people with disabilities (in particular) to manage to steer clear of trouble spots. Afterwards, we saw pictures of many people with brooms and brushes cleaning up after the looters, and of course the same media was used to catch & prosecute the mindless morons doing the looting.

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