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WHOSE DATA IS IT ANYWAY?

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One of the best forms of escapism is indulging in these addictive social media tools. As we continue into 2019 with renewed focus, let’s explore these tools and their blessings and curses.


Social media is supposed to be one of the most empowering tools created by technology. It is also equally highly engaging. That is if it is used for its intended purposes apart from memes and what the lit generation call ‘flossing.’ It has the power to self-empower through sharing of ideas and but equally the power to destruct individuals, groups and relationships.


Networking


The initial purpose of social media was technology tools created to facilitate the sharing of ideas and information, and the building of virtual networks and communities. There are over 100 social media networking sites around the world according to practicalecommerce.com.


Now you know why your WhatsApp message may not be replied to until the next day. People are busy out there. Very busy. The most famous of all these social networking sites though is Facebook with over 1.5 billion active users a month and, at times hitting the two billion mark. Coming a close second is Facebook’s sister WhatsApp with about one billion active users.


Facebook in particular is an addictive indulgence with very few rules of engagement. Some call it a time-waster. It beats counting sheep during a night of insomnia though.


For businesses, it has been seen to help boost marketing campaigns with measurable outputs from target audiences and engagements. For purposes of today’s article let us focus on Facebook.


Otherwise if we were to discuss WhatsApp with its blueticks (sometimes grey) and hidden online status, we would need the rest of this newspaper’s pages.
Imagine this: It’s a misty morning and you roll over and reach for your mobile phone. You enable data and enter a social media app. The inviting words ‘what’s on your mind?’ blink at you like the alluring advert of a massive clothing sale.


Notifications


You are hooked and feel compelled to share what really IS on your mind. “Good morning world! I feel like being in bed all day…” you type frantically and press post. In a few seconds there are notifications. Some are likes, others are comments.

You chuckle as you respond to these comments. This is the typical start to a day of many people around the world. They share their personal lives with virtual strangers.


I have 5 000 Facebook friends. But I have never even met a majority of them. Despite this, my life is theirs and their life is mine now. We are a community. I know when they are happy, I know when they are sad. I know when they are checking in somewhere and I know when they are feeling bored at home. Basically…we are a family. Sisonkhe.


Inappropriate


Recently, locally, the usage of Facebook has come under a lot of scrutiny.  This comes after debates over what others may view as inappropriate posts of either barely clad females or the recent attacks on a service provider by consumers due to what they perceived as unsatisfactory service.


This then begged the question, what really should we be posting? Are there any rules for posting, are there any consequences for reckless posts and who imposes the punishments. 


This, in effect, makes one wonder if one can have a say on what a person posts on Facebook on a daily basis. Is that not infringement on their right to freedom of expression? Are we really allowed to have an opinion on the type of posts they share?
Do we have a right to an opinion on their data usage, when we do not own their mobile phone or even buy their data? This is the debate on the streets these days.


Well let’s cut this short. Remember the small print that you quickly pressed accept on when you joined Facebook without reading it to the end? Well, the answer to the above questions lies there. Facebook developed a set of community Standards that outline what is and is not allowed on the site. The goal of these community standards is to encourage expression and create a safe environment. Facebook says they based these policies on input from the community and from experts in fields such as technology and public safety.
Guidelines
Hence you find that some posts are reported to Facebook as inappropriate and subsequently the user can be blocked or suspended for a certain period. The many guidelines also prohibit objectionable content and this includes adult nudity and sexual activity. These rules are out there in black and white but since they are in small print they are not so well-known. But everything in this world has rules and guidelines.
In the past, we have seen people fired or suspended, especially in South Africa for racist or hate speech posts. There have always been people trying to educate others on what is appropriate to post and what is not appropriate.
The responses we normally see are that ‘it is my phone and my data and I will post whatever I want.’ Apparently from Facebook’s community standards it’s not exactly only about it being your data. You can enjoy social media, but let’s enjoy responsibly.
So next time you are unsure if your post can ruffle a few furthers or not, don’t stay in uncertainty simply go to the community standards, they will guide you. Yes it is your data but use it accordingly.

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