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Human rights commission launches Social Media Charter at NMU

15 Mar 2023

Human rights commission launches Social Media Charter at NMU Mandilakbe Kwababana This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. "With rights come responsibilities, even on social media." This was the overarching message by the SA Human Rights Commission SAHRC during the launch of the Social Media Charter at Nelson Mandela University's south campus auditorium yesterday. The charter is a legal framework which seeks to combat cyber bullying and social media discrimination with financial and criminal penalties for perpetrators.
The 30page charter provides a set of guidelines for individuals and organisations to promote responsible and ethical behaviour on social media in line with SAs constitution. It is curated by the human rights commission through its Social Harmony Through National Effort SHINE initiative in partnership with NMU. Before calling for its adoption, promotion and implementation yesterday, the SAHRC, a chapter 9 institution, held consultations with various stakeholders to draft the charter. This comes in the wake of Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr being fined R100,000 for hate speech regarding his comments about the LGBTQt+ community on social media last year. The SAHRC had dragged him to the Equality Court and demanded R500,000. SAHRC acting chief operations officer Eric Mokonyama said the newly launched charter sought to uphold SAs democratic values, even on the internet. "The charter outlines a set of principles that promote the protection of human rights on social media platforms. "It includes sections on accountability, freedom of expression, privacy and protection of vulnerable groups in cluding children," Mokonyama said. The launch is aligned with Human Rights Month and Human Rights Day on March 21.

NMU executive dean for the faculty of humanities, Prof Pamela Maseko, requested a return of the values of ubuntu on social media and announced the university's pledge to adhere to the charter. "The charter represents an important step towards using the insights of the humanities to creative a more just and equitable society. "We must reflect on our use of social media and use it in a way that promotes the principles of human rights and dignity," she said. According to the SAHRC, SA is ranked fourth highest in the world for both social media use and cyber bullying. "We have received more than 70% of complaints from women who have received on line abuse," the SAHRC's Dr Eileen Carter said. "We can now appoint tracking agents and get hold of abusers, and also subpoena social media houses to get access of information, so anonymity is no longer a way out." Carter said SA had 30million active social media users and by 2025 there would be increased accessibility by means of 6,000 community WiFis in the Eastern Cape, with 1,000 being in Nelson Mandela Bay through SA Connect, a national broadband project. National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi welcomed the charter. The office of the public protector, Electoral Commission of SA, Walter Sisulu University, Rhodes University and the UN had also offered their commitment and continued collaboration with the SAHRC. The charter is available on SAHRC social media platforms. Ji IAL Err DEMOCRATIC VALUES: The deputy chair of the SA Human Rights Commission, commissioner Fatima Chohan, at the launch of the charter at NMU yesterday

Source: The Herald

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