In May 2007 the South African blogosphere was shook to its core with the abusive allegations from the SA Male Prostitute Blogger. Patricia de Lille, leader of the Independent Democrats party, took this personal and raged a campaign against blogging and MXit to be controlled. Now the lists of shame that has been circulating on MXit is likely to cause a similar outcry from authorities, parents and the community at large.

My question to you is whether this reaction may be justified?

How would you feel if the same of your son or daughter appeared on such a list? Whether it is true or not, often the damage done by this uncivilised behaviour can have a lasting impact on the teenagers involved. At that peculiar age of development the sensitivity to outside criticism is higher than before or after.

Here’s 5 suggestions if your children’s names appear on such a slut list:

  1. Remove their cellphone for a week or two because the more they look at it these messages, the worse they feel. And get them doing other activities where cellphone is not important. Avoid the Internet because they are bound to Google this shame lists.
  2. Encourage them to stay in doors with family or get their friends to come over and visit at your house because the more they go outside, people will keep asking them how they feel. And telling people how bad you feel has never made anyone feel good. Give them a break from the barrage.
  3. Ask the Principal for a week or two leave of absence from the school and get a doctor’s certificate if necessary. You must protect your own sanity and your children’s during this delicate stage.
  4. If you can, send them away on a holiday to another city where nobody knows them and get their mind off the nasty things being siad in the messages.
  5. Report this to your local police department and get a case number. Also report it MXit and ask for a track number or reference number. They current are currently revamping their call centre (0861-00-6948) so send email to support@mxit.co.za.

Anyway here’s the official press release from MXit about these issues I discussed on Channel Islam last Friday. They issued this just before going on air and it was read out by the host of the show to help calm down the outrage in the communities.

MXIT RELEASE: OFFENCE LISTS ON MXIT

25 July 2008

MXit is taking this matter seriously and working with the MXit community to eradicate these defamatory lists from MXit. We are in the process of identifying and locating these messages within our systems so that we can remove them from MXit – which is a task in itself as we process upward of 250 million messages per day.

The MXit community of over 8.6 million users is just that… a community – and therefore MXit is committed to addressing this unpleasantness as it sullies the experience for the rest of our users – and does not engender community spirit.

We feel this is an abuse of MXit and contrary to our terms and conditions. We are in the process of contacting all those who have mailed us and are seeking to assist them with these messages.

To understand the MXit application and how these messages can be passed around – one would need to send a message to another user. This forwarded message is then saved to the recipient’s gallery. The original message, unlike a private instant message, is stored on our system and a link to this original message is forwarded to another user. This is what is being passed from one user to another. Saved messages (to a gallery) are the only messages we can access. We have instructed our technical team to replace the link with a notice that the message is blocked, as it is a breach of our terms and conditions, which without prejudice is agreed by all our users when they register on MXit.

We are inviting our users and the MXit community at large to contact us directly whenever these lists do the rounds. They can do so by emailing us on support@mxit.com with information regarding these messages. A big help would be to send us the exact file name of the messages received for us to speedily track them.
By working with the community we wish to jointly spread the message that we will not tolerate this behaviour on MXit, and users who operate in this manner will be removed from MXit.

We further suggest that if one is victim to this behaviour, that it’s reported to the authorities. MXit has an obligation to protect the privacy of our users and therefore cannot divulge user information. However, we will take the necessary steps to assist when and where we can – and that would be to assist the authorities in their investigations too.

MXit Boilerplate

MXit is a free mobile instant messaging solution that provides low cost text based communication to mobile users. The aim is to create a global community with access to cost effective and accessible communication and entertainment services. With over 8.6 million users and in excess of 250 hundred million text messages being sent per day, the business case for brand exposure, building and owning communities as well as advertising is compelling.

Contact details:
MXit Lifestyle, Laura Hallam
press@mxit.com