Beware: Your Social Media comments can have severe legal implications

Can your opinions and negative comments about individuals, companies and brands that you post on Twitter hurt you – legally speaking?

The short answer: yes. At a presentation at the Social Media Evening (@smevedbn) which was held at IT varsity recently, Social Media Law specialist, Emma Sadleir (@EmmaSadleir)  explained that whatever you publish on social media could land you in hot water.

Ms Sadleir explained that Social Media law is “the law that regulates any conversation that takes place over the internet, called User Generated Content (UGC)”. She went on to explain that the instant you publish information (including Tweets, Retweets and Facebook comments) you are subject to the same laws that would apply to the traditional media. In short, every person who has access to the internet and publishes content is considered a publisher.

Ms Sadlier provided real-world examples of people who made statements on social media, only to meet disastrous consequences. One such example is that of Justine Sacco, the PR executive who was fired over her infamous tweet: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

Ms Stucco published the tweet as she boarded a plane for a 11 hour flight, totally unaware that during her flight her tweet would go viral and cause an international outrage. Nontheless, she was subsequently fired from her job.

Freedom of Expression versus Defamation – where does one end and the other begin?

As far as freedom of expression on the internet is concerned, Ms Sadleir explained that while freedom of expression is a very important constitutional right, that right is not unlimited. “If your speech infringes on the rights of another, violates copyright or constitutes hate speech then your freedom is legally limited.” says Sadleir.

Are negative comments about your employer subject to defamation law?

Yes. Ms Sadlier provided examples of employees who posted negative comments about the companies they worked for on their personal profiles, resulting in dismissal.

In summary, Ms Sadlier compared social media to a billboard: just as you wouldn’t put certain types of comments next to your your name and picture on a billboard, do not do so on social media.

Woeful lack of women in the African ICT sector

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem

International Women’s Day


International Women’s Day was celebrated on 8 March and is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. The day is celebrated as a result of the hard work of Suffragettes. The great women campaigned for women’s right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes and celebrates the success of women worldwide. The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911.


IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.

Many international organisations and companies now support International Womens Day by running their own initiatives and supporting outside programmes.

Social Entrepreneur and LinkedIn Influencer Leila Janah wrote a piece to commemorate International Women’s Day. Her powerful sentiments express the ability for women to be leaders in the field of technology.

“When you think of women in technology, who comes to mind? Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg? HP’s Meg Whitman? Google’s Susan Wojcicki?

Yes, me too. But I also think of Martha Kerubo, an orphan from rural Kenya, who recently graduated from high school, acquired some basic technical skills, and is carving out a life for herself through online BPO work. Like those mentioned above, Martha is a bright, determined woman with great inner strength who sees and seizes the potential of technology. While Martha isn’t on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful, she is a very powerful woman in her own right.”

Google also celebrated the day with another of their famous doodles to show solidarity with the women of the world on the day.


Google Doodle for International Women’s Day


IT Varsity endorses empowerment of women and promotes equality among students on campus. Many students in our new app dev class are female. The campus is also busy with preparing to launch the Geek Girl Campaign which will encourage more females to get involved in app development and technology.


ITNews Africa, a leading tech website, recently interviewed Dr Rebecca Parsons, CTO at ThoughtWorks, to gather insight into the issue of the low number of women in the field of ICT in Africa. She commented that the African ICT context still has a high barrier to entry for talented females. “There is still a woeful lack of women in technology globally and Africa is unfortunately not any better.   Development roles, leadership pipelines and leadership development all need attention.  We need more role models for women in technology.”

While the industry for telecommunications, technology, smart devices, cloud computing and the economy of apps seems to be growing in Africa at a phenomenal rate due to high user adoption, it seems that the industry still lags behind with opportunities for women in the ICT sector.  Skills transfer is not happening quick enough to address the need.

IT Varsity is committed to addressing the need for more women in the field of science and technology. Our student intake for females is an encouraging 40% of all classes combined. With this trend, IT Varsity aims to inspire and empower females of all walks of life and learning to become an integral part of the ICT sector.

New students at IT Varsity Orientation Day 03 March 2014