Often, we see 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.
Navigating 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.
“The moment you are involved in any way or form, you become part of the distribution channel and could have legal implications.”
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 …
The following is a scenario of a video that went viral recently:
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 behaviour. 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 happens not just at restaurants; people argue all the time but the difference here is that someone decided to share this one on social media platforms.
What a responsible digital citizen should do:
Let’s look at the different role players and perhaps you can identify with one of them:
1. 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
- Who are you exposing in the video?
- Do you have their permission? Especially when kids are involved.
- Is it okay 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?
2. The person who recorded/shared 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 or who could be bullied because of what 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 may not be age-appropriate or it could upset people. For instance, videos of abused animals.
- Brands being damaged and dragged into something that could have been contained.
- This could become part of a defamation case and could lead to more serious consequences.
3. The people in the video
- Their reputations will be tarnished. Their behaviour might have been unacceptable and out of line, but do we have the right to punish them and throw stones by sharing the incident online?
- Again, the person could lose their job.
- Relatives and associates disconnecting from this person resulting in rejection.
- 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.
- 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?
4. 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. 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 tip for responsible digital citizenship?
If you see something online, don’t get hooked in. Consider carefully if you are willing to put your name next to it and then THINK before you post.
Rianette Leibowitz, Cyber Safety & Digital Parenting Thought Leader, Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador and founder of SaveTNet Cyber Safety