The University of Pretoria (UP), in a communication to students regarding the use of social media, warned that students could be suspended, expelled and criminally charged for what they liked, shared, re-tweeted, and even tagged-on on social media.
UP’s management highlighted that the decision was made “in the light of recent events of a violent and disruptive nature on University campuses.” According to them, much of the violent and disruptive events were “fueled by ongoing commentary on Facebook, twitter and other social media.”
The institution called on students and staff to “take note that not only posts or re-tweets, BUT ALSO likes, tagging and re-tweets of posts on social media which incite violence, harm or constitute hate speech are in contravention of the University’s Disciplinary Code: students, and South African legislation and constitute grounds for criminal and civil action.
Please note that if you allow your name to be coupled with any ‘likes’, ‘tags’ or ‘re-tweets’ of this nature, you are equally liable and that disciplinary action and possible suspension or expulsion from the university and/or criminal or civil action may follow,” UP stated.
With that, they warned that students and staff are personally responsible for the use of their names on any social media platform. “If your handle or name is attached to certain content, you are responsible for its publication,” reads the communique.
Reacting, South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) dismissed the communique as a public stunt when the civic organisation’s spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu commented that “until the UP management acts on racist tweets on the AfriForumJeug/Youth Facebook page instead of turning a blind eye to them, the warning remains a publicity stunt.”
Meanwhile, News24 related that students think UP’s warning isout-of-order now.”
Yet another inquired thus – “How can we control who tags us on Facebook? What if our accounts get hacked? This is unacceptable, they can’t do that.”