THE TWITTER sphere has been running amok with explicit sexual content from South Africa, inviting questions about the legality of sexy social media.
Recent Sex scandals on social media
Recently, South African twitter was abuzz after a man leaked nude photos of a woman, allegedly his ex-girlfriend, because he was in “a fit of rage” after they broke up.
The woman’s pictures were then retweeted and shared across twitter to the point where #nudes was trending in South Africa.
Closer to home was the “Wits Sex tape”, which was uploaded onto a blog and shared by many on campus and around the country. The tape trended for 72 hours and people were still asking for links to it even though the blog had already been deleted.
At Rhodes, a “Gossip Girl” account tweeted a picture of a man and a woman naked in a university dorm room and in a sexual position. Tweeters such as Michelle Solomon (@mishsomolon) called for the account to be reported for sharing explicit content.
The Rhodes University alumni account (@RhodesAlumni) tweeted that what the account was doing was illegal and that the account should be closed. The account was shut down soon afterwards.
However, while the twitter sphere enjoys posting and sharing illicit sex tapes and nude photos, the repercussions for doing so, for both the original posters and those who retweet, can be severe.
Legal implications of distributing sexual content
According to media law expert Dario Milo, if the person depicted has not given consent for a sex tape or nude photo to be distributed then they have legal recourse.
Milo said those who had made sex tapes or nude photos but had them published without their consent have three legal routes they may follow.
A person can sue for invasion of privacy and have a court interdict to have the content removed.
A person can sue for damages if publication causes them to lose their job or if it results in their reputation being damaged.
The third legal route is to make a complaint of “crimen injuria”, unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person,” to the police.
The crimen injuria route would mean that the person who has distributed private content unlawfully could serve jail time.
Even retweets can get you arrested
Milo said those who shared or retweeted the content were also not on safe legal ground and could be held liable along with the person who originally posted the content without consent.
He said it was important that people realised that even if both parties had consented to making a sex tape or taking nude photos, that does not mean they consented to its distribution.
“Consent for one purpose does not mean consent for another purpose,” said Milo.
The moral of the story is, think twice before posting that naked picture or sex tape of that ex-lover you are angry with.