Just as I sit down in front of my laptop with a good idea on what to write, I hear the zuhur adzan. The day passes by so quickly.
I thought I would pen down some details on what to do if anyone becomes a victim of cyber bullying.
You are a doctor, doing your thing, seeing patients in the clinic. The day goes by as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. Suddenly, come lunch break, you open your phone and there’s a thousand messages from whatsapp and facebook messenger…
To your horror, your name and other private details have been ‘viral’-ed by a patient you had seen earlier during the day.
You try hard to remember what happened. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Patient came in, was assessed, patient went out. Patients spouse came back in requesting a MC. Ok lah, you give it, although based on your assessment, patient was fit for work. Despite that, the viral-lers accused you of saying things you did not say, doing things you did not do, and the whole world has bashed you based on these lies.
The above is only a fictional scenario.
This post is also assuming you are in the right and the other party is in the wrong.
What do you do?
No 1: Ensure that from a medical point of view, you have done all the right things and that it is documented. All documentation/s are evidence that can be used in court.
If you are not the person-in-charge, then make sure you discuss it with your superior/s. This can range from the consultant to the hospital management/CEO. Make sure that everyone is clear and on the same page.
No 2: Collect all the evidence. Hopefully your friends have screenshot the post with the details of the viral-lers. It is also important to get all the relevant details. For example, if it was a post using facebook, then the facebook account name and profile picture used at that time, also the facebook website address, which is the URL of that particular person’s page.
Of course, as the doctor, you have access to the patients personal details. Bring all the information to the police station and make a police report.
The police report is an important step.
No 3: Contact a lawyer. Luckily in Malaysia, there are NGO’s and universities which provide free legal advice. Or maybe you have friends who are lawyers, or maybe you have friends who have friends who are lawyers. Some are happy to give general advice through the phone while others prefer you to come to their office.
In general, this is what the advice may sound like:
The above would constitute what lawyers call ‘defamation’.
A party (the accused) has done something to tarnish the victim’s reputation. There is recourse to this.
A defamation lawsuit is basically where one files for damages, and the degree of damages is essentially limitless, in theory at least. An example was given to me by a lawyer, it depends on the degree to which the person’s good name and reputation has been destroyed, and the implications.
So, for example, if the person is a public figure, and whose income depends on having a good reputation, then certainly, the courts can award whatever sum they deem rightful.
However, if the doctor is working in government service, it is very likely (although not necessarily always true) that the party being sued, is not very wealthy, and hence, may not be able to pay whatever the amount of damage/s they have done.
So, usually, the first step would to demand a public apology. The apology should be done in the same manner the initial act of defamation was done. This of course, depends entirely on what the victim wants.
If it was me, I would just be interested in clearing my name. (Even Prophet Yusuf a.s. did this when he was wrongfully imprisoned and finally released years later, the first thing he did was to clear his good name, in public). I want everyone who read the initial defamatory post to know that it was lie. I did no such thing as the person claimed. The other person made it up entirely, for whatever reason. That would be enough.
The lawyer will issue a letter of demand, demanding an apology with whatever the specific details. A dateline included.
If the party complies, apologizes, then it would mean that case is closed.
If the other party refuses to apologize according to the terms and conditions, then it is fair to continue with the lawsuit.
Who asked them to spread lies in the first place? We are only interested in the truth and that justice be served.
No one should have to put up with any form of bullying, be it cyber or otherwise.