Monday, 25 May 2020

You Are What You Post: The Importance of Social Media Etiquette

Miss South Africa 2020 hopeful Bianca Schoombee recently came under fire on Twitter when some of her old prejudice and racist tweets resurfaced on social media. 

The allegations eventually led to her evoking her entry into the prestigious pageant.

This is of course just one example of social media users getting caught in the crossfire. As much as social media is a popular platform for people to engage in various topics, advocate and raise awareness for social issues, such as the #Metoo movement and #FeesMustFall, it can also be a place where — if not used carefully — one can find oneself on the wrong side of the fence…or worse, on the wrong side of the law.

Although there is no law that stipulates charging an individual directly for voicing their opinion in their post. if your post is derogatory, racially motivated or results in defamation of character, you can be charged and likely sentenced.

Social media profiling or vetting is another aspect employers take into consideration before bringing in a candidate for an interview. How you behave online could ultimately cost you a job opportunity.


The Constitution of South Africa allows us the freedom of expression, keeping in mind that your views do not extend to propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
You Are What You Post: The Importance of Social Media Etiquette
You Are What You Post: The Importance of Social Media Etiquette

Voicing your opinion or thoughts on current affairs or social issue is not unjust — as long as it does not advocate violence or prejudice.

It is also important to not endorse any of these types of social media posts — a simple like or retweet could easily be translated to you supporting it.


We meet people from different walks of life online who may have different views from us. There is no problem in engaging in conversations or debates, expressing your different perspectives. As long as it does not become an ugly fight with insults and catty phrases on the timeline for everyone to see.

Know when to respectively stop the engagement.


Whether your aim is to gain a following, trend for the day or for likes and retweets. Posting negative or discriminatory stereotypes disguised as humour, ultimately becomes your “brand”.

How you present yourself online gives an audience a glimpse of who you may be in real life.


In the world of cookies and screenshots, deleting a post won’t easily let you off the hook. Whatever is online can be retrieved one way or the other. Save yourself the trouble and proofread your post or tweet before you click to make it go live.

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