MPs tweet at their own peril

2013-03-24 10:53

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Cape Town - Parliamentarians are likely to have to take personal responsibility for social media postings conducted during official proceedings, the Sunday Times reported.

"If a member sits in the house or a committee and sends out tweets, does the whole parliamentary privilege apply?" ANC member Cedrick Frolick, the house chairperson responsible for committees who is tasked with drawing up a new social media policy for parliament, told the newspaper.

Currently, politicians have a parliamentary privilege whereby they are able to make statements - or even accusations - during the national assembly or committee meetings without being liable for civil litigation.

However, Frolick said it was a "huge question mark" as to whether this privilege could be extended for social media postings.

"You don't know what this member is tweeting or posting, so that member is ultimately personally responsible for it."

He said social media postings such as tweets could not be noted in Hansard, the official record of parliamentary proceedings.

"If you put information in the public domain about what is happening in parliament and it is not a true reflection of what is going on, then you must expect that people are going to expose you for giving the wrong information."

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