Lethabo Malatsi
2 minute read
2 Mar 2022
4:38 pm

Breaking these WhatsApp and social media rules might land you in jail

Lethabo Malatsi

Whoever doesn’t adhere by these new regulations, will have to pay a fine of R150 000 or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding two years.

Picture: iStock

With the approval of the Film and Publication Amendment Act, social media users could be fined or jailed for disseminating inappropriate content.

The new law was approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa and took effect from 1 March 2022.

The new regulations state that no user – through any medium – can send messages that are of a distasteful nature, such as sexual photos of another person.

This includes revenge pornography and hate speech.

According to BusinessTech, the regulations will primarily apply to the sale, hiring and streaming of content on digital platforms, such as the internet and social media, in South Africa.

If you break these rules you will have to pay a fine of R150,000 or be imprisoned for a period not exceeding two years.

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Revenge pornography

Revenge pornography refers to the sharing of explicit or sexual, images or videos, without the consent of the person in the image.

No person may expose, through any medium, including the internet and social media, a private sexual photograph or film:

  • Without the consent of the individual or individuals who appear in the photograph or film;
  • With the intention of causing that individual harm.

However, the rule doesn’t apply if the other person gave consent.

“Any person who knowingly distributes private sexual photographs and films in any medium including the internet and social media, without prior consent of the individual or individuals, shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding R150,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years,” the Act states.

Hate speech

According to the Film and Publications Amendment Act, hate speech includes words that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be harmful.

Anyone that distributes ‘hate speech’ will be guilty of an offence and liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding R150,000 or be sent to jail.

ISP requirements

“If an internet access provider has knowledge that its services are being used for the hosting or distribution of child pornography, propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or advocating hatred based on an identifiable group characteristic it shall immediately remove this content, or be subject to a fine.”

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