Think twice before you click share

Muhammad Talha Kazi | Secretariat Division

For many of us that use social media, we often feel the urge to instantly share and forward any content we receive to our contacts and friends without pausing to think whether it is within the ambit of the law do so in the first place.

DID YOU KNOW that by simply sharing content on social media, you could be considered a perpetrator of cybercrimes which could result in a criminal conviction, with the possibility of facing a lengthy prison sentence or having to pay a substantial fine.

Given recent cyber scandals on social media, government is looking at reinstating “The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill” (“the Bill”) which lapsed when parliament dissolved in May 2019.

The Bill aims to bring South Africa’s cyber laws in line with other countries and in particular intends curbing the distribution of harmful messages on social media.

The Bill will have an effect on all sectors of society including:

  • Financial Institutions;
  • Government departments;
  • Information security experts; and
  • Ordinary individuals that use the internet and mobile devices.

Whilst a substantial portion of the Bill focuses on criminalizing the theft and interference of data, it has also introduced regulations pertaining to ‘malicious’ electronic communication.

Malicious communication includes, amongst others:

  • content which incites damage to property or violence ;
  • content which threatens persons with damage to property or violence;
  • content which may contain images of an intimate or private nature without that person’s consent.

Any person found guilty of sending or forwarding messages of such a nature will be liable on conviction to a fine and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.

Although the Bill is yet to be enacted into law, it is still best that you exercise extreme caution regarding what you share and forward on social media platforms.