As millions of South Africans across the country celebrate Human Rights Day, let’s treat others online courteously, particularly on social media platforms. We should also be vigilant about what we post and the comments we make. Remember that everyone can see posts.
South Africa – Human Rights Day is a national day that is commemorated annually on 21 March to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the democracy in South Africa.
Democracy comes with the responsibility of ensuring that you practice your freedom with caution and that you are not infringing on the rights of others. Social media is one of the biggest ways that we communicate and we need to remember that what you post may affect all those closest to you, so take a step back and use your discretion and think about how it will affect your family, friends and those around you.
The most popular way to communicate on social media is through a mobile device. Users need to remember that what they can post may affect all those closest to them, so take a step back and think critically about how it will affect your family and friends, and whether it infringes on the rights of others.
“In the spirit of Human Rights Day, we need to be respectful of others, not only in person but also online. Before posting anything, consider how you would say it in person or if you would ever say it to a colleague or employer,” says Michelle Beetar, Cell C Chief Customer Experience Officer.
“If you don’t like what you see online, rather scroll down and avoid commenting. If you do comment, be open-minded to the opinions and views of others, even if you don’t agree with them.”
Here are some basic tips for respecting the rights of others online.
1) Compromising pictures/videos
Anything posted online is regarded as published. Do not post any pictures or videos that are maliciously intended to cause harm or embarrassment to others. If you see someone else posting them, do not share them on your profile. You would then be regarded as having published them as well.
2) Tagging friends and family
Do not tag any friends or family members on posts or pictures that defame or infringe on the rights of another person.
3) Violence, bullying and defamation
Do not threaten anyone with violence online or engage in cyberbullying. While South Africans enjoy the freedom of expression, this right does not extend to defamation, incitement to violence or hate speech.
Do not post videos or pictures of a sensitive nature. Too often, many social media users rush to post photos of accidents, crimes or other tragedies – especially when they’re part of a breaking news story. In some instances, these posts have gone out before the next of kin has been notified and they learn of it online or through the media. Think of how your post can impact other people before you publish it.
Do not post pictures of children, who are not your own, without the consent of their parents if they are under the age of 18. The dignity and rights of every child and parent should be respected.
The person on the other side of the comment you are about to send is a real person. They have good and bad days. They have insecurities. Consider that before you are hateful or rude to them.
Dealing with struggles in your life shouldn’t come at someone else’s expense.
Be kinder than necessary, always. People are going through things that you know nothing about.
Social media has given you a voice. Use it wisely.