Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Political ombudsman takes aim at bad conduct on social media

Published:Friday | January 4, 2019 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ News Coordinator
Donna Parchment Brown, political ombudsman.

Vitriolic mud-slinging by politicians and their surrogates on social media is now being investigated by Political Ombudsman Donna-Parchment Brown, who has reported that some of the comments are in breach of the Political Code of Conduct.

Parchment-Brown told The Gleaner yesterday that she has received reports from politicians on both sides of the parliamentary political divide complaining about material on social media that is malicious and that could trigger political tensions.

"Involved in the complaints are elected officials and contenders as well as persons who are close to the political process that are not at the table."

The political referee said that she received three complaints in December that were directly related to posts made on social media.

She said the three complaints were the proverbial tip of the iceberg.


'I did not make it'


The political ombudsman said she had already met with an individual who made an offensive post on social media.

"Yesterday (Thursday), I had a significant discussion with a person who had reposted an item. Initially, the reaction was, 'I did not make it', and so I have to explain that posting or reposting is publication."

She said that the code of conduct speaks to public utterances that may be defamatory and malicious and that may incite people to violence.

"I raise it as a concern because I don't have to establish that it is defamatory before asking you about it," she noted.

Parchment-Brown issued a news release on Thursday calling for the officials of political parties and supporters to remove the posts on social media that "demean and distort and to put forward material that will help the leaders to arrive at the best course of action for Jamaica to increase the welfare of all Jamaicans".

She said the language, products, actions, and reactions on a social media platform must be responsible and just as accountable as in other media spaces.