This video will guide you through some of the dangers of social media.
Transcript of Video
Susie (Lawyer): I don’t need to tell you how massive social media is these days and how quickly it’s taken over our lives. You might feel like it’s been with you forever, but Facebook was only created in 2004. Pretty scary right?
Well there’s a lot more to be scared about than that. While social media is truly part of our everyday lives, it comes with a whole heap of legal dramas that you need to know. For the next few minutes, the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania will guide you through some basic dangers of social media.
16 y.o. Female: Every time I take a selfie, I share it straight away with my friends - what can go wrong with that?
Susie: What we’re finding is that “selfie” you take and share with friends can quickly be shared with hundreds of people - who you don’t even know. Once you post that photo, it’s out there forever. It’s pretty hard to digitally erase something you thought was funny at the time, but you later regret.
Adult Teenage Female : I was at a pub with some friends and to be honest we were a bit drunk. Someone took photos of us and posted them online. Can I make them take the photos down?
Susie: This is a really good question. If you’re in public, you don’t have any rights over your image so you can’t really stop someone taking a photo and posting your image.
Recently, a publican took photos of school leavers who were really intoxicated in his pub. He was pretty unimpressed to say the least. To teach them a lesson, he posted the embarrassing photos online to shame them. The schoolies were upset big time and went to the papers.
But at the end of the day, the publican hadn’t broken any laws relating to misusing social media but he could have been investigated for his behavior by the agencies who grant him a licence to run his venue.
The point is, what you do in public is open for anyone to record and post, and there is very little you can do about it.
Adult Teenage Male: A girl that was sort of keen on me sent me some “selfies” that were a bit 'R' rated. She’s only 16. I’ve heard I could cop some grief for that.
Susie: This type of thing can lead to big trouble for sure, especially if you were to share that “selfie” with others via social media or your phone. Even though you were sent the photo with the girls willing participation and consent, if you have naked photos of anyone under the age of 18, girl or boy, it can be considered “possession of child pornography”. Now obviously, that’s a serious accusation and one that could impact on your life for years to come. Police ARE taking action in Tasmania in some cases.
Young Adult Female: When I was 18 I got really drunk with some friends and for a laugh we posted some photos that we thought were really funny at the time. Some of them are pretty embarrassing. What effects can that have on me in the future?
Susie: Unfortunately there are sometimes long term consequences from pictures posted on the internet. It's really a case of think before you post, as once on the net, pictures are accessible. This applies to pictures you take of your friends too. Consider their future. Employers are frequently checking applicant’s and employee’s postings and techno savvy employment agencies are able to access social media history and published images.
Young Adult Male: I had some sexy photos on my phone of my 17 year old ex. We promised we would never share them, but then we broke up. I was really upset and wanted to get back at her for dumping me, so I sent some of the photos to my mates. I guess that was pretty stupid, right?
Susie: Yes, that’s even worse than possession. In this instance you could be charged with DISTRIBUTING child pornography. As you may be aware when the media reports on these type of cases, it doesn’t differentiate between sex, age etc of the victims. If you’re convicted of this crime, it's something that will haunt you for life, despite the fact it started off as, what you both thought was, harmless fun.
Young Adult Female: Everyone knows that some people post some pretty nasty and hurtful stuff online. Is there anything you can do about it?
Susie: At Legal Aid we find a lot of people think they can write whatever they want behind the safety of their keyboard.
Well, that certainly wasn’t the case for 2 guys in a country town who rated the sexual performance of the local girls in their community. When people in the town went to the authorities, both the men were charged and convicted with “using a carriage service to transmit and publish objectionable material online.” It sounds technical, but to put it simply, they had used social media to degrade and insult the girls they knew in the town.
And to highlight how serious authorities view this type of online behaviour, one of the men was jailed for four months and banned from using Facebook for 2 years. Social media is not an online playground where you can bully, intimidate and threaten people and get away with it.
Teenage Male: I had a big fight with my girlfriend, so I went and got drunk with my mates and then I sent my girlfriend some pretty angry and threatening texts. Well, she took it pretty seriously and went to the police and now I’m in a world of pain.
Susie: We see this a lot. Just because you didn’t post it online for everyone to see you are still using a carriage service to threaten someone. And remember, if the case goes to court, every word you sent will be read out. The police can subpoena all your texts and records because even if you have deleted or taken down a message it can be retrieved. That moment of anger when you were drunk will not go away with the click of the delete button.
Susie: We all know the power of social media. It pretty much consumes us, 24/7. So, it’s important to remember that what you might think is an innocent photo, comment or message, could have a long lasting impact on your life. And that’s something that can’t be deleted or edited like a bad selfie.
If you want more information or advice you should contact the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania. It’s a free service and most importantly, it’s confidential.