Disclaimer: Not all people you see on social media are real.
A lot of ghosts and fake people operate social media accounts, some of them haunting and causing untold suffering on the real persons they impersonate. Such is the ordeal that befell Zimbabwean poet Tamika Manyoni.
By Plot Mhako, Germany
She recently fell victim to an imposter using her images to solicit for sex. Earground caught up with a distraught Tamika who opened up on her experiences.
To start with who is Tamika Manyoni?
She writes and performs poetry having started at the then Book Café. A one-time regular feature at the Acoustic Night Sessions at the Zimbabwe German Society and Page Poetry. She had a brief stint as an artist manager for Nendoro and Adrian Tate (2013).
About a month ago, friends alerted her about a Facebook profile under the name Yvonne Mutoko, it had her picture on it. The person behind the account was soliciting for sex using various other pictures of unsuspecting women some of them who look very young.
She reported the account and asked requested her Facebook friends to do the same.
When she thought the account had been taken down, this week she got shocked when someone forwarded her a picture of her captioned with a price tag, fake age, and fake location.
“It’s very embarrassing and emotionally damaging to me because I’m a high school teacher and most people are gullible enough to believe anything that gets passed around on social media, it could affect me professionally. My teenage son will be very uncomfortable, this might make me look like a bad parent.” bemoaned Tamika.
There is a growing list of similar cases in Zimbabwe which prompted model-cum-activist Tafadzwa Mushunje to start the Zimbabwe Anti-Cyber Bullying Trust (ZACBT) to fight the injustice and crime.
Tafadzwa herself a victim of cyberbullying, in 2016 she falsely accused of injecting a toddler with HIV-infected blood.
The laws on cyberbullying are still a bit relaxed in Zimbabwe however there are several attempts by the government to act on the crimes. In America and several European countries, it is forbidden to post images of minors online (even your own children) unless their faces are partially obscured in the face of growing pedophile cases.
“Most people think abuse is only physical but cyberbullying is indeed a gross violation of one’s emotions. Social media makes the world a global village such malice knows no boundaries”, said Manyoni
Asked on how she wishes the issue to be dealt with, Tamika said, “I wish we had sophisticated ways to deal with this problem because even in the developed world, a lot of people get “catfished” and scammed on the internet. Perhaps we can start by raising awareness and urging everyone to be mindful of who they accept as friends on Facebook, change privacy settings and not overshare stuff. There’s, however always a pervert lurking in the background”
She urged the public to take a stand and speak out against online bullying, identity theft especially in cases where it might involve criminal activities.