Facebook under fire

2010-03-26 09:10

Cape Town - It won't be easy to slap a muzzle on Facebook and other social networks, but they can be sued for things that are published on their websites.

However, the fact that people "spill their guts" or post hate speech is part of the uncensored discourse which is characteristic of the internet.

This is what experts had to say about the storm that broke over the past week regarding serious and controversial statements posted on Facebook.

Fans of the ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, made racist postings on a Facebook page. It was removed from the website earlier this week.

Bert Olivier from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, who lectures in film and media studies, among others, said one never has complete control over that which is published on social networks like Facebook or MySpace.


"Facebook is one of the most democratic inventions ever, and while one tries to promote freedom of speech, there will always be those who try to oppose it."

According to Heinz Oldewage, online community editor of Nuus24, the only solution is to report the specific page that you have a problem with to Facebook's control section, and hope it is removed.

"Practically it's not really possible to regulate Facebook. Should it ever happen that the content is regulated, Facebook will be held responsible for everything which is published on the website."

According to Olivier, it's possible to appoint online editors who can intercept unacceptable postings, but that decision rests with the owners of Facebook.

Roux de Villiers, a lawyer at Werksmans Incorporated Jan S de Villiers, said legislation is, indeed, applicable to Facebook, for instance as far as defamation is concerned.

"You can submit a complaint against the person who is making such allegations if you know what their identity is.

"The other option is that you bring the problem to the attention of the suppliers of the service, and in so doing, they will eventually be held liable if the problematic content is not removed."

De Villiers said this is usually a long process, but it could put some pressure on the service provider to regulate the website more rigorously.

  • Keith - 2010-03-26 09:42

    Freedom of speech - a wonderful thing to be nurtured. However that freedom must be excercised with other things like respect, decency,,,,, the list is endless. The most effective way of social networking is by the example of our lives. Walk your talk - from the highest politician, minister to the lowest civilian!

  • Gerard - 2010-03-26 09:48

    Now I understand why the Chinese do not have Facebook.

  • unknown ? - 2010-03-26 09:50

    Just as this comment is made facebook users are know and can be traced and therfore held responsible for their actions!!! So beware you will be traced.

  • snoep - 2010-03-26 09:52

    I have no problem with people spilling their guts and publish their hatred feeling. At least you know how they feel and make you aware should you be on the receiving side. no one is under the obligation to do so. Read and observe, works for me, know your enemies!

  • Juan - 2010-03-26 10:04

    Intersting topic. Does the geographical location of the poster or the facebook web server play a role?

  • NGS - 2010-03-26 10:10

    The population in general can find very few places where they can express their views in public, so when they do get the chance they really stick the boots in.
    In this country raciscm is perceived only as white persons attitudes towards black persons. Black persons attitude towards whites seems to have a different category and somehow manages to be justified.
    If Julius Malema can stand up and sing his stupid song and not be repremanded, the white people in this country will have derogatory things to say when they get the opportunity. Because these comments can be made anonomously they feel the can get away with being just as rascist as Julius Malema.
    Singing 'shoot the boer' and 'bring me my machine gun' will achieve nothing for this country besides inciting blacks to hate the whites and visa versa.
    Just like the Facebook page provoked an outcry and has now been removed from the internet, so should the stupid songs that JM and JZ sing. It is time for them to be archived!!!!!!

  • Responsible conduct - 2010-03-26 10:24

    Apply RECA rules to social networks.
    All social networks should also be subjected to RICA level registration. This information is not to be published/exposed but in the event of in appropriate conduct the service provider could expose the detail of the perpetrator to the relevant authorities.

  • leprechaun - 2010-03-26 10:35

    at least when the black people threaten to kill us we know what their plans are. What if we never had any idea of their planed massacre. We are now aware of the plans and are vigilant. we hear all the time how they hate us and at least with this way we can at least tell the UN who the culprits are. Keep the threats on to help the whites escape that place before they actually act on their thoughts.

  • Tarras Bulba - 2010-03-26 10:55

    Sticks and stones, people. Sticks and stones.

  • Allan S - 2010-03-26 11:00

    How does one say that flipping a bird at the oppositions president is a huge a crime which will earn you a day of misery at the hands of our overzealous VIP protection units, yet threatening to rape and murder the opposition (if they are white of course) does not raise an eyebrow amongst the ruling FatCat party. I have yet to hear that this conduct on a public site is a criminal offence. I believe that freedom of speech, eg showing the bird or holding up a placard is expected in a democracy, but that hate speech and incitement to commit serious crime should be severely punished. Facebook is a forum and cannot be held responsible. It must however take steps to remove this type of content from its pages.
    To the previously disadvantage, hate-filled minority out there..."Grow up and start trying to build a nation together with all South African instead of propagating hatred and division amongst our citizens"

  • Jacques - 2010-03-26 13:59

    The majority of black,brown,white etc South Africans want peace. The small amount of clowns like Melama and his gang,talk brave but are cowards. They will always attack from behind and in groups. Alone they are nothing. So,let us stand together.

  • joe - 2010-04-08 06:23

    Face book should Be Controlled strictly

  • THULANI - 2010-04-08 07:40

    Every one is personaly responseble for any hate speech on his/her facebook page

  • sinikiwe - 2010-04-08 08:05

    I don't see anything wrong with facebook.People are just airing their views and it is a personal opinion or feeling.And for you leprechaun who doesn't know that blacks are being oppressed in companies.It will never be easy to accept that a foreigner comes and rule you remember your origins Africa is not your origins and now you are here you are above the law.If we are to report what we experience everyday in our own companies to the outside world I guess they will feel for you.Doing the same job same everything but you find your white counterpart getting,this is not fair and we will never be at peace with that as long it is not addressed.I guess the reconcialition was premature in 1994 and some of you took advantage to oppress the blacks.How can you own farms and land when you are from another continent and when we say lets share you refuse.

  • Catan - 2010-04-14 16:34

    The Chinese have the right idea FB should be banned - but I guess if you want to make statements you will in any way shape or form - I wonder how many killings there have been from sites like Thunderboltcity or Adultfriendfinder

  • Sluggo - 2010-09-30 07:07

    Get RID OF IT!!! It serves no purpose, whatsoever!

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