Beware what your kids say online

Image-conscious schools are starting to investigate prospective pupils’ accounts before accepting them.

Social-media law specialist Emma Sadleir, who has been hired by some schools to draw up social media policies, told the Sunday Times that schools have expelled or disciplined pupils who had drawn their schools’ names into disrepute online.

“Many of the offences related to pornography, tweeting, cyberbullying and general misconduct, where pictures of them drinking and smoking were posted on their Facebook page and they say they attend a particular school,” she said.

“You forget that what you put up is like a tattoo. What you put up when you are 14 or 16 is still there when you try to get into the job market.”

According to the report, Panyaza Lesufi of the Department of Basic Education said that, while it (online) is a difficult place to regulate, school are at liberty to take action in matters that place them in disrepute.

How you act on social networks is increasingly becoming a hot topic amongst employers, social circles and now schools.

Last week (19 July 2013) men’s magazine FHM dismissed its features editor and a writer for comments they made on a private Facebook status relating to corrective rape.

The repurcussions of dodgy social media commentary extends beyond employer/employee relations, however, and can be legally challenged in South African courts, in terms of the country’s defamation laws.

In January, the South Gauteng High Court set a new legal precedent after it granted a South African Facebook user an interdict preventing a friend from posting about his personal life on the social network after she defamed him on the site.

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Beware what your kids say online