Online dopers beware

2015-07-14 06:00

DAGGA users who post pictures of themselves and others smoking the drug on social media could face prosecution and the pictures could be used as evidence.

That’s according to police spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese, who was commenting on this new trend sweeping social media.

People, especially youngsters, are taking to social media sites to show themselves smoking dagga and using other illegal substances.

“This is a national problem and we are doing all that is possible to combat this crime. Posting such pictures is a criminal offence and offenders will be arrested and dealt with accordingly,” said Ngobese.

He added that the published pictures can be used as evidence against the offenders and there are laws in place that regulate crimes on social media.

Social media expert and media and cultural studies lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Sandra Pitcher said even if users try to remove the picture from their social media pages, “there is the possibility that someone else has already shared or retweeted your image”.

“This means you lose all control over who has access to these images,” she said.

Pitcher says some social media users use the platforms “to perform for an audience”.

“Many people try to gain a following with a virtual audience to help bridge that gap of being alone. Users should be aware that just because it’s in cyberspace doesn’t mean that there aren’t repercussions in the real world,” she said.

One user, who says she has been a “habitual smoker” for three years, admits to have posted pictures of herself and friends smoking marijuana online.

The 21-year-old, who did not wish to be named, said she does not see anything wrong with posting such pictures. “I don’t view it as an issue as they are my pictures, my friends, my business … if you don’t like it, don’t look,” she says.

Another marijuana user said people post pictures that are “far worse” than marijuana on a daily basis, such as child pornography and underage drinking.

However, not everyone feels the same way. Some say posting such pictures online is taking it “too far”.

“I only share pictures of myself on social media sites such as Blackberry Messenger (BBM) where only my friends can view and have access to them,” said a youngster, who did not wish to be named.

The young man said he would never post such pictures on his social media as “one might also lose out on an employment opportunity”

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