Beware! Social media platforms are no go areas for malice

2013-02-02 06:22

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are fraught with dangers,especially in the field of privacy and human dignity.It is for this reason that a South Gauteng High Court has suggested for appropriate intervention, with the courts being the fora of last resort and this can have a positive effect on the use of such social media.

The Court handed down , a precedent setting judgment on 30.1.2013 in the case of two erstwhile friends, one of whom was undergoing marital problems that were leading to a divorce and whose wife was living with the friend, a respondent in the case of WS v W. For more details I suggest that readers of this post visit the webpages of www.saflii.org.za and click on the South African icon and then scroll down to the appropriate court site.

The judgment in essence granted an interdict to the applicant(WS) who sought to restrain the respondent (W) from posting malicious information on Facebook that painted the applicant in a poor light impacting on his right to privacy and human dignity.

So if there are persons who intend to use social media platforms to promote a specific or particualr agenda with malice, must be cautioned for they could end up facing a costly litigation, as it transpired in this case, which I strongly recommend subscribers to this post to study.

The applicant sought and obtained an order from the court compelling the respondent to remove all posting referring to him from the pages of the respondent and costs as it was found to be clearly malicious and defematory and not in the public interest as the information conveyed involved private marital issues between the applicant and his wife who was now staying with the respondent.

Facebook and Twitter, being social media, are platforms that serve to promote social relations between friends and to make friends who share information about one another and even though it depends on the privacy settings of each user, there was a legitimate expectation that issues such as privacy and human dignity would receive the due recognition and respect they deserve.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

Commercial and labour Lawyer

Durban

@jazlaw24

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