Social Media is a beautiful thing but in the wee hours of the morning, on the 9th of March 2013, when Malta had to wake up to vote in the general elections, social media turned ugly.
It was a whirlwind of events. Daphne Caruana Galizia, a well known journalist and blogger was arrested for expressing her opinion on her blog on the day known as the day of reflection. On this day, (for 24 hours before the crucial vote) no political propaganda is allowed to be broadcasted.
Timesofmalta.com reports this law was drafted in 1991 – when internet access was the stuff of science fiction movies – while on MaltaToday it was reported that social media and bloggers were defying the day of reflection.
Going back to The Times, the article concluded by saying that the Police didn’t answer questions about the prosecution of individuals who breach the day of reflection.
Well I guess we all got our answers now.
Now everyone is in agreement that this law is archaic, very vague and for lack of better word (it’s 4:00 am – what am I doing up?) is stupid. With its vagueness, if taken to extremes, would even take into consideration private conversations. But then what about freedom of expression? Does one law trump the other? And what is the difference between a media organisation and a private individual expressing their opinion, and what about blogs, Facebook and Twitter; are these regarded as private means of communication similar to private conversations?
The interesting thing is that a quick Google search will come back with blogposts from the previous election asking the same questions and J’accuse contemplating on the matter ahead of the divorce referendum.
What raises concern in this instance is the case of two weights and two measures. Why was Daphne Caruana Galizia arrested but the rest of the people expressing their opinion on Facebook – and yes this also included politicians and half of Malta – weren’t. Political ads on Google were still running, and so were Facebook ones.
More worrying is a page like this one who wants to appear independent at all costs yet has no shame in posting these kind of statuses;
In the mean time a page has been set up on Facebook to show support for Daphne Caruana Galizia. I understand she is not Malta’s favourite blogger but for now this cause represents freedom of expression, it represents someone being arrested in 2013 for expressing their opinion – think about it!