Are you responsible with your fingerprint?

digital fingerprintIn the last couple of weeks there have been some upsetting and disturbing viral videos, which didn’t only create a frenzy, but also impacted many lives negatively.

The question is, did you share, like, retweet or comment on these videos?

If you have, then unfortunately you are part of the distribution channel. Travelling on the cyber highway and experiencing the wonderful world of social media offers both opportunities and threats.

How do we navigate our actions and how do we exist in online space?

We need to learn to become a responsible digital citizenship.

A responsible digital citizen abides by the community rules of the platforms they use, considers the younger users on the platforms and is sensitive to the fact that all religions, races and cultures are being represented online.
At SaveTNet we say that your fingerprint is being used to either make someone’s day or break their heart, so we need to consider what the impact will be on our digital footprint.

Let’s talk about a real life example and delve deeper into what we, as digital citizens, should consider before, during and after we experience situations we want to share with the world. . .

digital fingerprint4An example of a recent Viral video . . .
For people who don’t know, let me sketch the scenario:

Two adults started a conversation, which turned into an argument at a restaurant.
Another person (at the table next to this) decided to film the argument.
This then became a heated and quite rude argument with bad language and aggressive behavior.
The sad part is that there were young kids at the same table who must have been very frightened.

It is obvious in the video that the staff of the restaurant and other diners were concerned, but not sure how to intervene or help.

This is not really something strange as it happens not just at restaurants – people argue all the time, the difference is though that someone decided to share this one on social media platforms.

So let’s talk about what a responsible digital citizen should do:

Let’s look at the different role players and perhaps you can identify with one of them:

ONE: The person who recorded the video:

  • It is good to have video footage for evidence purposes.
  • However, many people reach for their phones instead of reaching out.
  • This behaviour could be driven by a need to record footage that could secure the person more likes (you get likeaholics).
  • What you need to consider when you are the one recording the video:

digital fingerprint2Who are you exposing in the video?
Do you have their permission? Especially when kids are involved.
Is it ok for you to record this or is it against the law? E.g.: a crime scene, accident scene or potentially putting anyone at risk?
Are you able to help the people instead of being the bystander recording someone being bullied, hurt or in pain?
Will this video damage any brands and associated brands?

TWO: The person who shared the video (who would probably be the person who recorded the video or took the photo):

When you share that video, have you considered that the incident happened and that the people involved might have had a separate conversation and made peace?

Before you hit the SHARE button, remember that Viral videos such as this result in

  •  People losing their jobs.
  • Kids who need to face their friends at school and who will probably be bullied because of what they saw the adults did.
  • If it is an accident scene, loved ones could get a big shock to find out via social media that their family/friends have been in accidents.
  • Shocking other users of the platforms = some content is not appropriate for 13 year old users or it could upset people. For instance videos of abused animals.
  • Brands being damaged and being dragged into something, which could have been contained
  • This could become part of a defamation case and could lead to more serious consequences, which we won’t discuss today.

THREE: The people in the video:

  • Their reputations will be tarnished. Their behavior might have been unacceptable and out of line, but do we have the right to punish them and throw stones over and over and over again by sharing the incident online?
  • Again, the person could lose his/ her job.
  • Relatives and associates disconnecting from this person and rejection steps in.
  • It will never go away! It will always be part of their digital footprint – whether they gave permission or not. Even the kids and the innocent bystanders have now been involved and made part of something that will live online forever.
  • Users react in horrible ways and we have seen in the past how people have made mistakes by saying something out of line on social media platforms and then receive death threats.
  • What about the man’s wife who stayed calm and who also needs to deal with the humiliation over and over again?
  • The people who have shared, commented and reacted to the video will carry on with their lives. However, long after they have moved on, the people in the video will still pick off the pieces.

Is this what that person should receive because someone wanted to spread a viral video?

digital fingerprint3FOUR: The people who are sharing, commenting and responding

It is important to remember that the moment you are involved in any way or form, you become part of the distribution channel and could have legal implications.
Consider the stones we pick up and throw, every time we share such videos.
By sharing it, we are breaking down all the wonderful work that is being done to build our nation, to create positivity and to be more respectful.

SaveTNet tips for responsible digital citizenship?

If you see something online:

Don’t get hooked in and consider carefully if you are willing to put your name next to it and then THINK before you post.

safer internet day

Rianette LiebowitzBy Rianette Leibowitz from SaveTNet Cyber Safety NPC (Twitter: @Rianette)

SaveTNet Cyber Safety NPC is a for-purpose company, which aims to save lives by creating awareness for responsible digital engagement. We do this, by offering a NETwork of support through partners and SaveTNet is the first point of reference for people who need cyber safety information or help.

In this way, SaveTNet also helps to fight the dark side of the web, by adding support to the group who is fighting digital pornography, human trafficking, sexual grooming and other related issues.

Contact us at and connect with us on Twitter and Facebook @SaveTNet.