When downloading social media applications on our devices, we are required to hit that “agree” button, which we hastily do in order to quickly access WhatsApp and read our incoming messages. But, how many of us actually take the time to read the lengthy terms and conditions and understand what exactly we are agreeing to?

To make things a little easier, DM Social has read through these terms and conditions of some of the most widely used apps and highlighted what we thought was important.

 

WhatsApp:

This is the  most widely downloaded application and  has a current user base of 1.5 billion from 180 countries worldwide.

The Facts:

The age restriction for WhatsApp is currently 13 years.  When selecting “agree” or “accept”, we allow WhatsApp to do the following:

  • Use, reproduce and distribute, create works from, and perform the information that we upload, submit, store, send or receive through the application;
  • Access all our contacts in our address books on a regular basis, including viewing our profile pictures and status updates; and
  • Access our device information, IP addresses, location services and activity logs;

 

The good news is that WhatsApp doesn’t store our messages. Once messages are sent, they are (apparently) immediately deleted from the WhatsApp server and messages which are not sent within 30 days are automatically deleted.

 

Another safety mechanism is that WhatsApp messages are encrypted from the time they leave our devices until received by the devices we have sent them to.

 

WhatsApp can ban users for failing to comply with any of its terms and conditions or for using the application to send content that is illegal, defamatory, obscene, racist, offensive, harassing, intimidating, threatening, or in violation of the intellectual property rights of other users.

 

WhatsApp Groups:

The admin of a WhatsApp group could be held liable for all content posted to the group. In addition, all members of a WhatsApp group can be held liable for content posted to the group, where they fail to disassociate themselves from it, even if they never created the content in the first place. It is therefore imperative that admins of WhatsApp groups consistently monitor the content uploaded to it.

 

Cybercrime Bill 2018:

Chapter 3 of the Cybercrime Bill entitled “Malicious Communications”, which is currently before Parliament, makes provision for the following offences which could result in up to ten years imprisonment:

  • Sending a message which incites damage to property or violence;
  • Sending a message which threatens persons with damage to property or violence, ‘violence’ means any bodily harm, while ‘damage to property’ means damage to any corporeal or incorporeal property; and
  • Sending a message which unlawfully contains an intimate image, an ‘intimate image’ means both real and simulated messages which show the person as nude or display his or her genital organs, anal region or breasts.

 

Tips for Admins of WhatsApp groups:

  • Draft guidelines and post them to the group regularly stating:
    • The rules of the group;
    • The time of day messages may be sent;
    • The content that may be posted;
    • The consequences of violating the rules of the group.
  • Exit or delete a group once an event or subject matter is finished;
  • Consistently scan all content and remove content that is unlawful, racist, defamatory or amounts to hate speech, and the members who posted it;
  • Educate the members of the group regularly regarding acceptable content;
  • Immediately end conversations that lead to or have the potential to lead to defamation, racism or hate speech.

 

Contact DM Social for further information or advice on drafting WhatsApp group guidelines.

This article should not be used or relied upon as professional advice and is for information and marketing purposes. Please consult with one of our attorneys should you need legal assistance relating to this area of law.