MXit hits back after ID President Patricia de Lille’s calls for their service to be regulated by Government.
De Lille recently called for “Government to intervene to protect our most vulnerable” against “grown men, who use MXit to lure these girls and boys into their traps.” De Lille further called for strong regulation on online publication mediums like blogs. Her words drew strong criticism from the online community, and MXit has now responded voicing their concerns regarding De Lille’s statements.
“We are very concerned by the recent statement issued to press by ID President, Patricia de Lille calling for legislation to regulate internet blogging and MXit. This is, at its essence, a call for censorship,” MXit said.
“To hear this statement from a respected whistle-blower who has often championed silent causes is a blow to South Africa’s potential to remain a place where freedom of speech is guaranteed.”
What is equally concerning and alarming, MXit said, is that Ms de Lille took no time to familiarise herself with the technology she is eagerly hoping to control.
“Regulate blogging? How exactly does she propose this happen? Not even China with all its draconian legislature and resources is successfully able to censor its populous. This is the power of the internet,” MXit said.
“When it comes to her understanding of MXit, there are many misconceptions in her statement. MXit is a mobile instant message platform, which enables registered users to communicate using text based messages – similar to, but cheaper than SMS. MXit also houses a number of chatrooms. It is the chatrooms that appear to have attracted most of Ms de Lille’s ire. Before I defend MXit’s right to host chatrooms and users right to use them I would like to clarify some facts.”
MXit said that:
- Firstly, MXit chatrooms are limited to seven simultaneous users and conversations are not saved so comments do not have the everlasting quality they do on internet forums and blogs.
- Secondly, they are purely text-based forums and no images can be shared over this service.
- Lastly, of the over three million registered users, less than five percent use our chatrooms. The other 95 percent use the service to stay in contact with loved ones, friends and business colleagues at a fraction of the cost of an SMS. Let’s not forget that a large portion of our user base is previously disadvantaged and MXit offers an affordable alternative to services by other telecommunications providers.
MXit pointed out that they have a safety policy and communicate it through every available channel – the website, the forum (http://forum.mxit.co.za) and each and every time a user enters a chatroom. “The key to safety in chatrooms is anonymity – keep personal information private,” MXit pointed out.
“In my view it is both a right and a privilege in our democratic South Africa to freely exchange views, even some that are not palatable to her, or her senior councilors. If there has been slander, we all have recourse to a robust legal system and I recommend that the ID take this road to address the Simon Grindrod matter rather than introducing wide spread censorship of the public,” said MXit.