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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Sonia Booth: POPI Act ‘tricky’ as shared information relates to her experience

'But there are two other people she has exposed who didn't consent to the information being made public.'


The fine line between the right and dark side of social media exposure is blurred and subject to what information is shared.

Over the weekend, the Saint Champagne Bar and Lounge in Zonnebloem – known for its many celebrity clients – decided to take to social media to name and shame patrons for failing to pay their bills.

Saint management gave patrons with outstanding bills 12 hours to settle or risk their identities being made public.

This week, the Afrikaans TikTok For You Page blew up after a social media user exposed personal matters between a former Mrs Mpumalanga semifinalist and her ex-husband, resulting in many hate videos and followers bullying each other about the failed relationship.

The news of former soccer player Matthew Booth’s wife, Sonia, exposing his alleged infidelity has put social media usage under the spotlight.

Taryn De Vega from Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies said there were three major considerations to a story such as Sonia Booth exposing her husband on social media for allegedly cheating.

“There are personal, public and legal aspects of the story. Sonia shared information in her private capacity about herself, as a wife, being cheated on and as a spouse and had the agreement from the other spouse in public to share it,” she said.

ALSO READ: Sonia drops receipts about Matthew Booth’s infidelity and cheesecake betrayal

De Vega said it was their personal and private lives they chose to make public.

“In terms of information made public, I don’t believe these individuals are of public interest or the cheating was of public interest.

“Sonia, however, made a few interesting comments about them, pretending that it was in the foundation’s public interest, when it wasn’t.”

De Vega said there were questions whether the alleged affair should have been made public.

“The legal implications are if it is untrue, they can sue for defamation, but if it’s true, it not defamation, it’s just information that was made public,” she explained.

Sonia expose: POPI Act ‘tricky’

De Vega said there was also a question of the legality of the Protection of Personal Information Act introduced in 2019.

“It’s tricky because the information relates to Sonia’s experience but there are two other people she has exposed who didn’t consent to the information being made public,” she said.

De Vega said exposure on social media has become fashionable.

“It might not have any legal ramifications but it may lead to cancel culture.”

The SA Federation for Mental Health said social media was a risk, especially for young people.

“Research is showing more and more that social media can also have a very negative effect on young people’s mental health. Social media sites are associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and the fear of missing out.”

Clinical psychologist Dr Erica Munnik said social media was a medium to connect individuals on a personal and professional level.

“Social media can act as both facilitator and barrier for individuals,” she said.

“It can be used as a bridge to overcome barriers such as distance and time, allowing individuals and groups to connect and reconnect personally and professionally to expand and strengthen relationships, networks and communication.

ALSO READ: Bongani Moller burns off the cheesecake in spinning class before deactivating her Instagram

“On the contrary, research also shows that excessive use of social media can increase the presence of stress, anxiety and depression. It can lead to addictions such as excessive gaming, challenges with body image in adolescents and adults and loneliness and isolation.”

Munnik added social media also exposed individuals to cyberbullying, invasion of people’s privacy and identity theft.

“It is important for individuals and groups to use social media responsibly,” she said.

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