Parent Category: Library
Category: Opinion and Analysis



By Naseera Nanabhai


You are a citizen of the digital realm and thus, young or old, you will be a participant of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Being a citizen means that you subscribe to a particular law, or government, that will in some way hold you accountable. In recent years, many rules and laws have been put in place to make users of digital spaces accountable for their online actions. You are accountable for what you post online.

Radio Islam hosted a panel discussion on the topic of being accountable online. Muhammed Chohan and Imraan Kharwa were participants on the panel.

How do you see start-up businesses thriving and surviving today, do they have to be part of this 4th industrial revolution, or can they avoid it somehow? Muhammed responded saying that there were two ways of looking at the issue. For a tech entrepreneur, the 4th industrial revolution brings about many opportunities. The number of new tech start-ups that are part of the 4th industrial revolution is mind-blowing. There are various opportunities for people to grow in the field with few resources., therefore making it easier for people to get into this field. However, on the other side, there will be a need for authentic companies to come out, example food start-ups. In these instances, startups will be able to exist without paying much attention to the 4th industrial revolution.

When people occupy social media spaces, they often use their devices in seclusion. They formulate their responses with their own thoughts. Hence many guidelines that would be followed in a normal social situation tend to fall away. People feel that they can communicate in their own way and post whatever they like. However, legal compliance in digital branding is a fast developing branch of common law.

How accountable are social media users in their digital space, is it the same as in a physical social setting?  Imraan was asked on his thoughts on this. To which he responded that people tend to assume what they post online is their own. Often, they do not realise that social media and the internet do not follow the same rules as the real world. These postings do not go away, they last forever. People should keep in mind if they are willing to broadcast it on a billboard to the public, only then should they post it on social media. The platforms that we post on are also accessible to other networks. For example, Facebook can see your postings and your WhatsApp postings are being scanned. Everything you post or surf is being monetised so that advertisers can target you. Hence you need to be careful about what you post.

Social media influencers have taken the role of influencing the connectivity of their brand of social media to a product. There is a dedicated army of social media influencers putting out postings, captivating the attention of a niche market. However the question then arises, has social media influencers damaged authentic marketing? Muhammed responded saying that he had a lot of opinions on social media effect on marketing. He believed it affected authentic marketing especially when social media influencers do not mention that they are being paid to promote a certain brand. Here we begin to question the ethics of social media influencers. Companies should be very careful when selecting social media influencers to improve and market their brand.

What are the legal implications for organisations that put out false information online and what are the consequences that they will face? Where does South Africa rank, when it comes to false information put online by brands? Imraan explained "regulatory compliance". Due to the introduction of new technologies, robotics and so on, we see an equal rise in regulatory compliance and so on. In South Africa, we have the Protection of Information Act, that came into effect in 2013. We also have the Consumer Protection Act. These protect the consumer and prevents false information being transmitted to them. There are fines and possible jail sentences for such crimes, thus there are consequences for and measures in place that will address these types of actions.

Muhammed was asked, how much of significance would be placed on historic tweets when researching someone before inviting them or appointing them to something. To which he responded, whenever he appointed anyone he checked whether the person fits in with his moral compass, his religion, the audience and so on. Many a time he has turned down good people because they do not fit the criteria. This could be due to them posting something offensive online or agreed to something of this sort. His workshops promote ethical and moral speakers and hiring of people that have differing or opposite views. Hence people need to be careful when going into public space, especially when applying for jobs and so on.

Muhammed was asked about the steps he took to promote privacy within an organisation, to which he responded that all our work is subscribed to the GDPR which is the South African version of the European Poppy act. This protects the attendees of events, e.g. if attendees give their email addresses, the hosts of the event will not get access to this email addresses. Imraan added that they although people gave out their information to others regularly, they have the right according to the law to protect their personal information.

Many people see a deleted social media post as a retraction. This goes off the net, but it has been seen or recorded by people. In such instances should people overlook this or does it return to haunt them? This pertains especially to political figures and people of interest. Imraan provided his opinion on the issue saying that the idea of deleting a social media post as an apology does not stand. It will not go away forever. You have to assume that everything you post online is recorded by people. Deleting does not make anything go away on the internet, therefore, we need to be careful about what we post online.

Granted we are all new to the digital world, we still need to practice care on how we conduct ourselves on social media platforms, especially seeing the possible negative consequences to misuse.