Malilong: Act with justice even in cyberspace

Frank Malilong

THREE people are in trouble, the Cebu press reported since Tuesday, because of Internet chat.

One of them is a young woman who fell for the blandishments of a man she has not even personally met and exposed her naked self before the camera at his urging while he watched on a computer screen in a location that she did not know.

The news reports did not say that they were lovers but there must have been some sort of connection between them otherwise she would not have performed an act that even the most modernized Filipino woman would have easily rejected. Unless she was paid, of course.

But her family lives a comfortable life, the reports say, so money could not have been a motivation, unlike the women (and men) that the authorities arrest every now and then for trafficking children, including their own, to pedophiles and the depraved others via the Internet.

Whatever drove her to do it, her indiscretion has brought shame not only unto herself but also to her family. The video of her in her most embarrassing self was circulated in the Internet most probably by the heel she chatted with on cyberspace. He is the one who ought to be more ashamed and perhaps even hung by his balls for the harm that he had done.

Indeed, while the young woman may be blamed for her poor judgment, allowance can be made for the fact that she did it because she trusted in him and that what was going to happen between them was private and personal. The man betrayed her.

There is no such mitigation in the case of two mothers who created a chat group that included eight other mothers to gossip about other people. One of those that they gossiped against was someone whom they said was a witch, and drug pusher, has bipolar disorder and whose husband was a thief.

It happened that the husband is a trial court judge so when one of the group chat members squealed on them, it was not long before they were charged for cyberlibel. The news reports said they were arrested in the evening of Monday, meaning they must have spent at least a night in jail before they were able to post bail.

The lesson in both cases is that while cyberspace is a vast expanse, its use is not limitless. The admonition to act with justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith applies with equal force to transactions done in the web as they do to those that take place in the real world.

In fact, greater accountability is required of those who exercise their freedom of expression via Facebook, Twitter, Messenger and other social media than those done through the traditional means. For one, the penalty for cyberlibel is higher than the ordinary one. You could also get arrested in the evening.

The last one’s a joke I cannot resist cracking.