LindaGate: Linda Ikeji, Google & Social Media Tigers
Linda Ikeji was very unlucky with her Intellectual Property (IP) scandal, otherwise known as LindaGate. Her guilt or innocence is not the issue here, but the fact that too many others are doing it and will continue to do it with impunity under the very watch of Google.
It was even surprising that Google took her site down; her celebrity and the persistent complaints of a protestor did the trick, not Google diligence. Try reporting security risks, identity theft risks and IP infringements to Google and you would not even get the opportunity to put in a report; you are hardly protected. Access to make a report on their business products is very easy to conduct; it’s the feedback thing, you know, protecting the business.
It often takes a lot of complaining to get theft and security issues looked at by Google. Forget the Google corporate and ethics lines that suggest they do their very best to protect ‘your’ intellectual property, identity from theft. One has to fulfil a very narrow set of criteria to complain about online IP or identity theft risks or occurrences; it makes attempting to complain a futile exercise. Try it for yourself and see. Linda Ikeji is a celebrity blogger and handling a scandal concerning her is very good for Google’s business and apparent diligence. What about IP and identity issues of every day folk?
There are professions, careers, statuses and personal conditions that make the publication of a person’s location, address, date of birth or place of work moderately to seriously risky to make public. We all know what happens, courtesy Hollywood, when secret agents’ identities are compromised. However, is it any different when the details of drug developer who uses animals for initial trials, a teacher working in a tough school or a hospital surgeon is made public? Google appears to be oblivious to this reality. The fact that a “higher authority” spoke to Google on behalf of a high risk employee is simply a classic case of privileged access and connections. The playing field is nowhere near as level on cyberspace as we are made to believe.
Elsewhere, on social media platforms, particularly Twitter, Linda Ikeji’s celebrity and scandal, according to commentators like Emeka Ugwu (handle – @EUgwu), was exploited by “social media tigers” in a manner consistent with sexist overtures hitherto Ikeji, Chimamanda Adichie and others, young female rising stars. Jeremy Weate (handle – @jeremyweate) cannot be faulted for wading into the matter on the grounds of the rules of propriety and the adherence to them.
Others accused Mukhtar Dan’Iyan (handle – @MrAyeDee), who reported complaints of Ikeji’s alleged IP theft to Google, as engaging in an act of “PHD” (i.e. pull him/her down) a.k.a. bad belle (malicious resentment). Many well-known commentators on the ‘Nigerian scene’ simply refused to be dragged into the matter. Emphatically, the Nigerian audience has been particularly sympathetic to Linda Ikeji with both sadness and reactive support; too many are happy for the restoration of her blog.
However, an unusual entry into scandal’s arena was made by Ikhide Ikheloa, who brought Wole Soyinka’s name into the matter by paraphrasing a section of the Nobel Laureate’s memoirs, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, to ‘present an image’ of Mukhtar Dan’Iyan in his staunch defence of Linda Ikeji. Many are waiting to contest the memoirs vehemently.
Ikhide is a skillful writer with a strong reputation. He has a large following on social media; a writer who is widely read and listened to. Yes, his opinion on events and people count. I know him especially for the responsibility he embodies for holding people to account for wrongdoing, using stringent high standards of propriety as his yardstick. I was very surprised that on social media platforms that he has nothing but words of adulation for Linda Ikeji in the face of plagiarism.
On the contrary, on his blog Ikhide held a journalist, Tobore Ovuorie, working for Premium Times, for a story she broke on human trafficking to stringent high standards of investigative journalism and story credibility. In Ikhide’s opinion, the story was too melodramatic to be credible and the undercover tactics used to infiltrate the trafficking syndicate were questionable, if believable. His perspective on the issue has merit, but it also caused some devastation. Tobore is a female writer just like Linda Ikeji.
Ikhide’s narrative on the antics of Dele Olojede of Next, the now defunct newspaper, in his exploitative mistreatment of high quality journalist writing in his stable is admirable. Again he uses high standards to convict Olojede. Then there is Ikhide’s commentary on the NLNG prize for poetry in which he raises important issues such as the unavailability of books poetry by short-listed nominees on the market, the wastefulness of the prize and the laziness of the publishing industry and writers. Ikhide insists that Christopher Okigbo, the Nigerian poet, is a genius, but a plagiarist – a practice he swears is “wrong.”
But in a dramatic twist, when matters turn on Linda Ikeji, Ikhide waives the responsibility of holding people to account for their actions by stringent high standards – he advocates Ikeji is a genius and has not erred. When Linda’s blog was restored, Ikhide quickly returned to one of his marketplaces, his Facebook page, to dance Udje in celebration:
I am so happy our Linda Ikeji is back, I love Linda, I adore her even, she is easily the most influential thinker in today’s Nigeria, with hundreds of thousands of followers. She has more followers and readers than all the combined followership of African writers. And she writes better than most of them. I love reading the comments on her blog; they show that my generation of narcissistic teachers and rulers screwed up our kids! Linda Ikeji, my favorite African writer, should be venerated, not vilified. *swoons* *dies*
Linda Ikeji is so influential and powerful that she can mesmerize people to the point that they become blind to their usual good sense of judgement.
- PERSPECTIVE is published every Monday. Dr. Nane is an errant scholar and economist. Follow him on Twitter: @Grimot