HOW YOUR SMARTPHONE COULD GET YOU FIRED
‘Digital content is dangerous content.’ That is the take-home message you’ll find in social media legal expert Emma Sadleir and medical doctor Lizzie Harrison’s book, Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A Teenager’s Online
Survival Guide. Yes, we know, the book is aimed at teenagers. But even if you’re not spending your time taking duck-lipped selfies or living your life one Instagram story at a time, admit it: you’re probably just as attached to your smartphone as any teenager.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Well, this still doesn’t apply to me; I would never post something controversial or inappropriate on Facebook, and I’m not even on Twitter.’ But even seemingly harmless activities like posting or ‘liking’ an article on Facebook, or taking photos on your phone can have repercussions in the long run.
And what you may not realise is that WhatsApp is also a social media platform – anything you send, or that’s sent to you, can get you into trouble.
‘Screenshots get everyone into trouble,’ writes Emma. ‘In fact, just about every case that lands up on our desks is there because of a screenshot.’
In one case, Emma was approached by a girl in matric who was expelled just days before her final exams. Her crime? Sending a WhatsApp to friends.
‘Her “friend” had taken a screenshot of an inappropriate comment this girl had made to her on WhatsApp, then posted it on the class WhatsApp group. There was nothing we could do to help her. Once the content exists digitally, it can come back to bite you.’
Even if you don’t send anyone the content on your phone, it can be used against you. According to stats by KeyPoint Intelligence, about 1,2 trillion pics were taken globally last year – and 85% of them were taken on phones.
Remember when those nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence were leaked online? Well, did you know that she’d never sent them to anyone? She’d taken a few nude selfies with her phone and deleted them moments later. Harmless right? Nope.
‘Unfortunately for J-Law, even though some of those photos had existed only on her phone for a matter of seconds before she “deleted” them, they had already been backed up to her iCloud,’ writes Emma. ‘This meant that when her iCloud was hacked, the hackers were able to access all of those nudes and distribute them far and wide… It wasn’t sending or posting the pics that caught her – it was simply the fact that they existed in a digital format!’
While we’re on the topic of sexy pics, did you know that your under-18 daughter could get into legal trouble for sending nude selfies to her boyfriend? She’s essentially creating and distributing child pornography – even though the photos are of herself. ‘Creating and distributing child pornography are two of the most serious offences, and children all over the world are being charged with them,’ writes Emma.
And if your daughter’s boyfriend forwards that picture to a friend (besides the fact that he’s violating her privacy), he’s also guilty of distributing child pornography, as is his friend for having it in his possession. Or maybe your teenage son shows his friend a pornographic picture on his phone – if that friend is a minor, your son is committing a crime. ‘You can be arrested and prosecuted for this crime from the age of 14, maybe even younger,’ says Emma.
Anything you ‘publish’ can come back to haunt you. ‘Scarily, in the eyes of the law, the stuff you quickfire post or message is considered to be exactly the same as something that is published in a newspaper, magazine or book, because all of these platforms are public and permanent,’ writes Emma.
‘Sadly, the news gets even worse, because… WhatsApp is also
What you may not realise is that WhatsApp is also a social media platform – anything you send, or that’s sent to you, can get you into trouble.