A critical PSA has just come in from social media expert Emma Sadleir.
Under South African law, WhatsApp group admins could be held legally liable for other users’ posts.
The messaging platform’s new update, which has been operational since the beginning of this month, has been called a “game-changer” by Sadleir as it allows group admins to delete messages of other participants in a chat.
Before, only the person who sent the message was able to ‘delete for all’ but now, group admins also have that control. The timeframe to delete has also been extended. Before you only had an hour to delete, and now you have 48 hours.
Per MyBroadBand, Sadleir explained that South African law proposes that the admins of groups may be legally responsible for the content they could remove but chose not to, and the time frame for deleting could complicate defending your case.
Sadleir gave us the lowdown via YouTube. Take notes, folks:
BusinessTech explains more:
The Film and Publications Amendment Act criminalises all forms of image-based violence and revenge pornography. Meanwhile, the Cybercrimes Act criminalises threats to people, categories of people and property on social media.
While it has long been established that posting harmful messages on social media can lead to legal issues, she noted that in some cases, sharing, forwarding, liking or failing to call out a harmful post could also lead to issues.
Sadleir mentions the ‘chain of the publication’ in South African law, which describes how if you share, like, or interact with anything deemed illegal on social media and the greater internet, you are technically responsible for it.
That goes for racist comments left under an Instagram post that you didn’t delete, liking an anti-Semitic group on Facebook, or retweeting something off the mark, for example.
This also goes for anyone who spots something indefensible in a WhatsApp group. Sadleir explains you effectively have two options if that is the case; express your disapproval, or leave the group.
Otherwise, “there is an argument that you are in the chain of publication,” she said.
Keep an eye out and message carefully.
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