Tag: social media

Source: BBC News

Mark Zuckerberg has laid out his vision to transform Facebook from a social media network into a “metaverse company” in the next five years.

A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.

The Facebook CEO described it as “an embodied internet where instead of just viewing content – you are in it”.

He told The Verge people shouldn’t live through “small, glowing rectangles”.

“That’s not really how people are made to interact,” he said, speaking of reliance on mobile phones.

“A lot of the meetings that we have today, you’re looking at a grid of faces on a screen. That’s not how we process things either.”

‘Infinite office’
One application of the metaverse he gave was being able to jump virtually into a 3D concert after initially watching on a mobile phone screen.

“You feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness,” he said.

Facebook is also working on an “infinite office” that lets users create their ideal workplace through VR.

“In the future, instead of just doing this over a phone call, you’ll be able to sit as a hologram on my couch, or I’ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch, and it’ll actually feel like we’re in the same place, even if we’re in different states or hundreds of miles apart,” he said. “I think that is really powerful.”

Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality, spending $2bn (£1.46bn) on acquiring Oculus, which develops its VR products.

In 2019, it launched Facebook Horizon – an invitation-only immersive environment where users can mingle and chat in a virtual space with a cartoon avatar through Oculus headsets.

Zuckerberg admitted current VR headsets were “a bit clunky” and needed improving for people to work in them all day.

But he argued that Facebook’s metaverse would be “accessible across… different computing platforms” including VR, AR (augmented reality), PC, mobile devices and games consoles.

Metaverse origins
The concept of a metaverse is popular with tech companies who believe it could be a new 3D internet, connecting digital worlds where people hang out in virtual reality.

Its origins come from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where it served as a virtual-reality-based successor to the internet.

Tech firms have tried to implement metaverse elements in popular games including Animal Crossing, Fortnite and Roblox.

This includes planning live events such as concerts and tournaments where millions of players can interact from around the globe.

Behavioural data
“Part of the reason Facebook is so heavily invested in VR/AR is that the granularity of data available when users interact on these platforms is an order of magnitude higher than on screen-based media,” Verity McIntosh, a VR expert at the University of the West of England, told the BBC.

“Now it’s not just about where I click and what I choose to share, it’s about where I choose to go, how I stand, what I look at for longest, the subtle ways that I physically move my body and react to certain stimuli. It’s a direct route to my subconscious and that is gold to a data capitalist.

“It seems unlikely that Facebook will have an interest in changing a business model that has served them so well to prioritise user privacy or to give users any meaningful say in how their behavioural data in the ‘metaverse’ will be used.”

Tech giants like Facebook defining and colonising the space, while traditional governance structures struggle to keep up with the technological change could cause further issues, she added.

Trump to start own social media platform

Source: CNN

Former President Donald Trump is coming back to social media – but this time with his own network, a Trump spokesperson told Fox News on Sunday.

Jason Miller, a long-time adviser and spokesperson for Trump’s 2020 campaign told Howard Kurtz on Fox’s “MediaBuzz”, said that Trump will be “returning to social media in probably about two or three months.” He added Trump’s return will be with “his own platform” that will attract “tens of millions” of new users and “completely redefine the game.”

“This is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media,” Miller told Kurtz. “It’s going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what President Trump does, but it will be his own platform.”

Miller said during his appearance on Fox News that the former president has been approached by numerous companies and is in talks with teams about the new platform.

“This new platform is going to be big,” Miller said on Sunday. “Everyone wants him and he’s going to bring millions and millions — tens of millions — to this platform.”

The announcement comes after Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter and other social platforms, such as Facebook, following his incitement of the US Capitol riots on January 6 — where hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, leaving five people dead.

Following Trump’s ban on Twitter, Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, intervened when other aides attempted to get Trump on fringe social media platforms such as Parler and Gab.

 

Consumers slate Discovery bank in survey

By Londiwe Buthelezi for Fin24

BrandsEye’s annual SA Banking Sentiment Index reveals that African Bank had the most positive social media mentions this year.
On the other hand, Discovery Bank had the worst.

BrandsEye also found that, in the early days of the lockdown, customer queries on social media spiked by 61%.

The social distance between banks and their customers, created by Covid-19, has left many unhappy as overwhelmed banks fail to keep up with their customers’ frustrations on social media, according to the latest South African Banking Sentiment Index.

The index, compiled by customer experience data provider, BrandsEye, reveals that, during the early phases of the lockdown, more customers used social media to reach out to their banks. It spiked conversation volumes by 61%, while banks’ response rate to customers over the same period fell by 39%.

“With the influx of customers seeking assistance on digital channels, banks struggled to keep up with the demand for support on social media. 47.3% of priority customer conversation (those which require the banks’ attention and action) on social media went unanswered by the banks,” wrote BrandsEye.

Policing banks’ conduct towards their customers

While BrandsEye has compiled the South African Banking Sentiment Index annually since 2015, this year’s index was more than just about determining which bank has the most unhappy customers on social media.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) used the index to gauge banks’ Banking Conduct Standard, which the regulator launched in July.

The Standard is based on the six Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) outcomes.

In the past, TCF regulations only policed the conduct of insurers as the FSCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Board, did not regulate banks.

Looking at data that BrandsEye collected from over two million social media posts about South African banks between September 2019 to August 2020, the FSCA’s divisional executive of regulatory policy, Caroline Da Silva, said 90.7% of customer complaints on social media included issues that touched on fair or unfair treatment of customers or TCF compliance themes.

These ranged from complaints about unauthorised debit orders to complicated product structures and misleading advertising.

“Social media is indeed a rich source of conduct-related conversation that banks ought to pay close attention to. As the regulator, we are concerned with the volume of complaints that BrandsEye has identified,” wrote Da Silva in the report.

The FSCA and BrandsEye said the fact that almost half of customer conversations that required the banks’ attention and action went unanswered “should be alarming for the industry” because had banks paid more attention to these, they would have avoided reputational damage and escalation of complaints to the regulator.

But because they are missing out on doing something when these complaints surface, “they risk facing heavy fines from the regulator as well as significant reputational risks that such sanctions would generate”, read the report.

African Bank scores highest and Discovery Bank the lowest

According to the report, Nedbank and African Bank were the two most responsive banks and Discovery Bank the least responsive.

It said Discovery Bank only replied to about one out of every 10 interactions that required its attention and action.

Overall, African Bank received the most positive posts on social media over the period of data collection, followed by Capitec. Discovery had the most negative customer sentiment, scoring the lowest in net sentiment, after FNB.

On the positive side, the net sentiment score for all eight banks included in the report – which include the big four, Capitec, TymeBank, Discovery Bank and African Bank – improved by 0.9% percentage points compared to 2019.

The net sentiment score tallies the percent of positive sentiments on social media posts, minus the percent of negative sentiments.

The sentiment score around all banks’ turnaround time – which is usually the biggest source of social media users’ frustrations – also improved, a phenomenon that BrandsEye attributed to the increased adoption of digital channels by banks as a result of Covid-19.

 

Donald Trump versus social media

The President has had multiple posts on social media removed or blocked for violation of the terms and conditions, and for spreading “fake news”.

Twitter blocked the President’s account
Twitter locked Donald Trump’s account on Tuesday after he shared the email address of a New York Post columnist.

The US President’s account was locked for posting private information without consent, the social media giant confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump praised and quoted columnist Miranda Devine for her Sunday column in the New York Post.

In the column, Devine applauded Trump for overcoming his battle with COVID-19, saying he will “show America we no longer have to be afraid”.

In the now-deleted tweet, Trump followed up his praise by posting Devine’s email address, which is against Twitter’s privacy information policy.

Twitter removes posts

Following his departure from the Walter Reed Medical Center, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday had a restful first night at home, and reported no symptoms of COVID-19, confirmed White House physician Dr Sean Conley. In a Twitter post, the President wrote that the flu season is coming up and “many people every year, sometimes over 100 000, and despite the vaccine, die from the Flu.”
The US President added the Americans had “learned to live with” flu season, “just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Twitter hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning about “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information”.

Facebook removes posts too

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc removed the Trump post for breaking its rules on COVID-19 misinformation, according to CNN. According to media reports, this is the second time that Facebook has deleted a post from Donald Trump whereas Twitter has intervened more often with deletions and warnings.

By Brian Fung for CNN

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to “strongly regulate” or even shut down social media platforms after Twitter applied a fact-check to two of his tweets this week.

Trump did not elaborate on what actions he could take. But the threat is Trump’s clearest expression of intent to use the power of government to target his perceived political enemies in the private sector — businesses that already enjoy wide latitude under the law to moderate their platforms as they see fit. And it raises the stakes for Twitter and Facebook as they grapple with Trump’s misleading claims about mail-in voting and his baseless insinuations that a cable TV news host had a hand in an aide’s death decades ago.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. He went on to accuse the tech industry of trying to interfere in the 2016 election, before repeating an unfounded claim about voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots.

“We can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country,” Trump tweeted. “It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment Wednesday.

Later Wednesday morning, Trump teased a “big action” regarding social media but declined to elaborate on what that could be.
Trump’s Twitter outburst followed an unprecedented decision by the platform on Tuesday evening to apply a fact-checking label to Trump’s content for the first time.

The label, which Twitter has designed to combat misinformation and unverified claims, linked to a curated page with links and
summaries of articles describing how Trump’s claims on mail-in ballots are unfounded.

Shortly after the labels were applied, Trump took to Twitter to claim the company “is interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling FREE SPEECH.” He added that he “will not allow it to happen!”

But Twitter’s fact-checking decision raised further questions about whether it would apply the same treatment to Trump’s misleading claims about Lori Klausutis, the aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, a prominent critic of Trump. In recent days, Trump has leveled unsubstantiated allegations at Scarborough suggesting he was responsible for Klausutis’s death. The claims have been undermined by the official autopsy, which found Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition. Klausutis’s husband, Timothy Klausutis, reiterated that in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week, saying that Trump’s claims denigrated the memory of his wife for perceived political gain.

Twitter has told CNN Business that it will not be removing the tweets about Scarborough.

Long-standing complaints from conservatives

Trump and conservatives have long complained that tech platforms algorithmically censor right-wing voices. The claims derive from a perception that Silicon Valley’s largely left-leaning workforce has designed social media products to discriminate against conservatives, though the companies strongly deny the allegations.

Some executives, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have sought to accommodate conservative voices by meeting with them privately, and even meeting with Trump himself.

Trump has previously suggested that the US government could take action against media he dislikes. Last year, the White House set up a website to solicit complaints from the public about tech companies’ perceived political bias, and Trump has called for an examination of NBC’s television license, even though it does not have one.

Earlier this month, Trump tweeted: “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” and promised, without specifics, that his administration would “remedy this illegal situation.” Following that tweet, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump has considered establishing a White House commission to study allegations of conservative bias.

Privately, officials from the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have expressed concerns about a prior proposal from the White House to appoint those agencies as direct regulators of political content on social media.
Meanwhile, major tech industry players remain under federal and state antitrust investigation. But antitrust probes tend to be highly technical and are usually limited to the impact of corporate conduct on competition in the marketplace.

David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former top FTC consumer protection official, said any government push to restrict how private platforms moderate their websites could raise First Amendment questions.
“This is just another example of Trump thinking that the Constitution makes him a king, but it doesn’t,” he said.

By Dalvin Brown for USA Today

Facebook kicked off its annual developer conference on Tuesday where the tech giant announced the big changes coming to its family of apps.

At the multi-day conference, the social networking giant unveiled a redesign for Facebook, updates for Instagram and a new dating feature called Secret Crush. Facebook also said Messenger will eventually take up less of your smartphone’s storage and the company says it’s diving deeper into the world of augmented reality.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Facebook redesign

Facebook is overhauling the mobile app for the fifth time ever.

The company is calling the redesign “FB5,” and it will roll out over the next few months. One of the most visible changes so far is the elimination of the big blue bar at the top of the screen that Facebook has been known for.

The company is also reinventing the way users engage with Groups and Events.

Groups will be easier to find and easier to participate in, Facebook said in a blog post.

The tech giant also said that the social networking app is home to tens of millions of active groups that users find “meaningful.”

“With this in mind, we’re rolling out a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler and puts your communities at the center. We’re also introducing new tools that will help make it easier for you to discover and engage with groups of people who share your interests,” Facebook said in a blog post.

There’s also a fresh Events tab that will make it easier for users to see what’s going on around them, discover local businesses and get recommendations.

Instagram updates

The photo-sharing app has a new camera mode, and it’s testing out features to “lead the fight against bullying.”

Create Mode will let you create a post for Stories that isn’t a photo or video, something that is sure to be popular with users who want to add text to a solid color background. The camera in Instagram Stories is also becoming easier to spot as it has been hard to figure out for some users.

Another new feature will enable any influencer or celebrity to tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy them within the Instagram app.

Instagram is also running a beta test to hide the like count from photos and view count from videos in an effort to get users to pay attention to the content itself and not engagement metrics that often cause people to compare themselves to others.

Instagram said that the “private likes” test would begin later this week for users in Canada.

Messenger changes
Facebook Messenger’s mobile app is getting smaller.

The company said it’s creating a new version that will use less of your smartphone’s battery power and take up less than 30MB of storage. The new app will also launch faster, in under 2 seconds to be exact, Facebook said.

Messenger will also be available on the desktop.

“People want to seamlessly message from any device, and sometimes they just want a little more space to share and connect with the people they care about most,” Facebook said in a statement.

WhatsApp for Business

The private messenger isn’t changing much.

The only notable addition is a new Catalogs for a business feature that’s launching in the months ahead. With that feature, people will be able to see what’s available from businesses participating in WhatsApp Business when the feature rolls out later this year.

“This is going to be especially important for all of the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence, and that are increasingly using private social platforms is their main way of interacting with their customers,” said Zuckerberg onstage.

AR and VR expansion
Zuckerberg also announced that Oculus will start shipping two new virtual-reality headsets, the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, later in May. Each will cost $399.

Pre-orders for both headsets begin immediately.

Facebook also relaunched Oculus for Business with the intention of supporting an ecosystem of business administrators, developers and end users. Oculus for Business is designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace.

Social media is part of the modern fabric of interaction, with some reports suggesting that 66% of users spend time checking social media accounts while at work.

Industry tracker Mediakix suggests that popular platforms YouTube and Facebook consume one hour 15 minutes per day.

But when you leave your company, who owns your Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or even Gmail account? Legal experts in SA say the law is not clear.

“This is a grey area, and it would really depend on a thorough investigation of the history, purpose and origin of the social media account in question,” Pamela Stein, head of Employment Law at Webber Wentzel told Fin24.

“In order to demonstrate ownership, the employer would have to show that the social media account was clearly created for the purposes of promoting the growth of the business, and that this growth was achieved by social media activity generated during company time.”

Personal information

She added that factors over the ownership of a social media account would depend on whether the account had been created as part of the employment contract, or for the purpose of growing the organisation’s profile.

Unlike a company cellphone, computer or car, a social media account does not only exist on a mobile device, and the law assigns protections of personal information, as described in the Protection of Personal Information Act, which forbids unwanted sharing and exploitation of personal information.

“You have rights over your identity. However, if there was a clause in the contract of employment saying any personal account created during their employment is the property of the employer – perhaps the employer would have rights to it,” specialist technology attorney Russel Luck told Fin24, though he was careful to agree that the matter is not a settled one under South African law.

“If these accounts were set up so the employee could engage with the public as an extension of his work services, then perhaps the employer would have rights over it. Even more so if the email address used to verify the social media account is a work email, not personal one,” he added.

This reflects a US case in which Phonedog sued former employee Noah Kravitz over marketing on his Twitter account. The company alleged that 17 000 Twitter followers Kravitz had amassed was a customer list and demanded damages of $340 000.

A News24 survey revealed that 53% of social media users accessed the platforms while at while at work, and 3% said they would like to, but were not allowed.

Personal logins demand

Stein said that in SA, an employer seeking to claim a social media account would have to show just cause.

“Firstly, the employer would have to establish a basis for such a claim, and then sue the employee in the appropriate court depending on the cause of action.

“The employer could seek an order prohibiting the employee from any further use of the social media account and requiring the employee to take all reasonable steps to return the social media account to them.

“In addition, all social media sites allow users to report breaches et cetera and once such an order is obtained the social media platform could be notified and requested to assist.”

However, Luck argued that for a local company to demand personal logins to social media accounts would be a contravention of South African law.

“On the other side of the coin, SA law does follow international trends that you don’t need to give your employer your login details to your personal Facebook account – ie it’s unlawful to force an employee to do this.

“Where employers are making employment, promotion, dismissal or labour decisions based on access (or lack of access) to the personal Facebook account of an employee it would amount to unfair discrimination.”

Source: Fin24

Social media tightens its grip on SA

As data costs drop, social media use has intensified among South Africans in the past year, with Facebook now being used by 29% of the population.

This is a key finding of the SA Social Media Landscape 2018 study, conducted by brand intelligence organisation Ornico and high-tech market research consultancy World Wide Worx.

The study found that the number of South Africans using Facebook has increased by 14% since 2016, from 14 million to 16 million.

Of these, 14 million accessed the social network on mobile devices.

A big contributor to the increase was the growth in downloads of Facebook Lite, a low-intensity version of the Facebook app some mobile operators allow to be used without data charges on their networks.

The study showed that it was the fifth most downloaded app from the Google Play Store for Android phones in South Africa, with instant messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger at numbers one and four respectively.

The Capitec app was a surprise entry into the list at number nine, making it the most downloaded banking app for Android.

“These are great examples of how tools geared towards the dynamics of a market can make a difference in uptake and penetration,” says Ornico CEO Oresti Patricios.

Mobile soon the default home of social media

“The staggering proportion of people accessing Facebook via mobile devices – no less than 87.5% – tells us that we can expect mobile to become the default home of social media.”

Twitter continues to grow at a slow rate in South Africa, in line with international trends, which have seen a small decline in the US balanced by a small increase in users outside the network’s home market.

It is now used by 8 million South Africans, up marginally from 7.7 million in 2016.

“Twitter remains the social platform of choice for engaging in public discourse,” said Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx.

“It is exactly half the size of Facebook, but its users get access to vastly more personalities, news sources, and opinions – and can become opinion-makers themselves.”

There were two surprise trends in the survey: the previously fastest growing app in South Africa, photo-sharing network Instagram, has seen its growth slow down dramatically, while professional network LinkedIn has maintained steady growth.

The former is now used by 3.8 million South Africans, up from 3.5 million, while LinkedIn usage has increased from 5.5 million to 6.1 million.

The study included a survey of social media use by South Africa’s biggest brands, with 118 participants providing insights into their social media practices, strategies and results.

The survey found significant shifts in each of the platforms used by brands, mostly upward. Facebook is now almost pervasive, in use by 97% of brands, from 91% the year before.

Twitter has increased marginally, from 88% to 90%, while LinkedIn and Instagram continued their relentless rises, now both standing at 72%.

YouTube has fallen slightly behind them, despite a marginal rise to 68%.

Declines were reported for Pinterest, Google+, WeChat, WhatsApp and SnapChat.

“The findings underline the lesson that widespread consumer takeup of a platform, as we have seen with WhatsApp in particular, does not lend itself readily to brands communicating with those consumers,” Patricios said.

A similar picture emerged when brands were asked whether they advertised on social media.

Facebook is by far the most popular for advertising at 86% of brands, with Twitter and Instagram in distant second and third place at 45% and 40%. LinkedIn comes in fourth, at 35%.

“It is noteworthy that most advertisers believe they see a return on investment when they advertise on social media,” Goldstuck said.

“By far the most common benefit they see is brand awareness, followed by customer insights and brands.”

Source: Fin24

What you post can wreck your life

Harvard recently rescinded admission offers for some incoming freshmen who participated in a private Facebook group sharing offensive memes. The incident has sparked a lot of discussion: Was Harvard’s decision justified? What about the First Amendment? Do young people know the dangers of social media?

I’m a business school lecturer, career services counselor and former recruiter, and I’ve seen how social media becomes part of a person’s brand – a brand that can help you or hurt you.

College admissions staff, future employers and even potential dates are more and more likely to check your profile and make decisions or judgments about you.

Here’s what you should know so you don’t end up like those Harvard prospects.

1. Social media posts disappear, right?

Let’s be clear about one thing: You’ve been building your online reputation since your first Snapchat. Think the posts disappear? Think private pages are private? Think again.

You might feel like your life and opinions are no one’s business, but you can’t always control who sees what you post. Every photo, video, tweet, like and comment could be screenshotted by your friends (or frenemies). You might make a mistake with your privacy settings or post to the wrong account. And a determined online sleuth can sometimes find ways around privacy settings, viewing photos and posts you might think are well hidden.

2. Do employers and colleges actually look at this stuff?

Your profile will very likely be scrutinised by college admissions officers and employers. According to CareerBuilder’s 2017 social media recruitment survey, social media screening is through the roof:

  • 600% increase since 2006 in employers using social media to screen
  • 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates
  • 34% of employers found online content that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee

This trend is common with admissions as well. Kaplan Test Prep’s 2017 survey of over 350 college admissions officers found that 35 percent checked applicants’ social media profiles. Many who do said social media has influenced their admission decisions.

3. What are recruiters watching out for?

So what are the potential hazards to avoid? These are some of the types of posts that left a bad impression on me when I used to recruit:

  • References to illegal drugs, sexual posts
  • Incriminating or embarrassing photos or videos
  • Profanity, defamatory or racist comments
  • Politically charged attacks
  • Spelling and grammar issues
  • Complaining or bad-mouthing – what’s to say you wouldn’t do the same to a new school, company, boss, or peer?

4. What can I do to build a positive online reputation?

Remember, social media is not all bad; in many cases it helps recruiters get a good feel for your personality and potential fit. The CareerBuilder survey found 44 percent of employers who screened candidates via social networks found positive information that caused them to hire a candidate.

From my experience, the following information can support and confirm a candidate’s resume:

  • Your education and experiences match the recruiter’s requirements
  • Your profile picture and summary is professional
  • Your personality and interests align with the values of the company or university
  • Your involvement in community or social organizations shows character
  • Positive, supportive comments, responses, or testimonials

5. How do I clean things up?

Research. Both the college of your dreams and your future employer could Google you, so you should do the same thing. Also check all of your social media profiles – even the ones you haven’t used for a while – and get rid of anything that could send the wrong message. Remember, things can’t be unseen.

Bottom line: Would you want a future boss, admissions officer, or blind date to read or see it? If not, don’t post it. If you already have, delete it.

By Thao Nelson; published on MSN.com 

Social media could impact your insurance

Using your phone for social media while driving could be considered reckless behaviour by an insurer, giving the insurer the right to decline a claim in the event of an accident, said a legal expert. The first thing you would need to do is to call a lawyer.
Maria Philippides, director of insurance litigation at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, explained the legal implications as well as consequences for insurance cover where reckless behaviour is related to the use of social media.
She referred to a recent report in the UK where a woman was jailed for using Facebook when she caused a car accident. Philippides explained to Fin24 how a case like this could possibly be handled locally.
In South Africa, the use of a cell-phone while driving is prohibited by the road traffic regulation. This is not just limited to talking on one’s phone, but also holding a phone or other communicating devices when driving, explained Philippides.
If caught by authorities when doing these activities, one could be liable to pay a fine. In the instance that this behaviour leads to something worse like an accident causing death, one can be charged for culpable homicide, she said. “If convicted, it would carry a jail sentence.”
Insurance policies are designed to cover the insured for their negligent behaviour. But there are policy provisions which explain when insurers do not pay out claims. This is either when the claims arise from a criminal offence, such as using your phone when driving, explained Philippides.
The other instance when a claim is not paid out is if the policyholder does not act with “due care” to avoid an accident or loss or damage, she added. In this case the actions go beyond negligence and are viewed as being reckless, she explained.
A court would test for recklessness in terms of the person being aware of the risk that would result of their conduct, and still continuing with the action regardless. In that case the insurer will be able to reject the claim, she said. Hence contacting an attorney in an injury case should be the first move anyone should make to ensure they get their insurance claim without any form of issues.
“If you are operating your cell-phone, which you know is illegal or an offence … and your attention is not on the traffic and the road ahead of you, [with your head] looking down. That can be termed as reckless.”
Drivers have an imposed duty by the national road traffic act to be engaged with driving, explained Philippides. If you are engaged in an activity “so removed from your duty to drive properly”, no matter what it is, including applying make-up in traffic, it is reckless, she emphasised.
Wearable devices
When asked about how operating wearable devices, such as smart-watches, while driving may be viewed by insurers, Philippides acknowledged that the law was struggling to keep up with the pace of changing technology.
“Law can’t keep up with every single device that gets created… There is no specific prohibition on a person using a smart-watch,” she said.
However even though there is no prohibition in law for using a device, insurers can reject a claim if the use of the device can be classified as reckless, she explained.
Philippides pointed out the innovation of smart windscreens, where a navigation panel comes up on the windscreen when driving. Even if this innovation is legal, it is possible that insurers may view the use of this navigation while driving as reckless.
Proving use of social media
If a policyholder does not accept that their claim was declined, the matter can reach the courts. It is up to the insurer to make the allegation and prove that the policyholder was using their device when driving. Philippides explained that the insurer would have to get evidence of the use of the device. This could be witness statements, the police report and possibly cell-phone records to prove the use of the device coincided with the time the accident was made.
The records could show when data was used, or when phone calls were made. Activity logs from social media, with permission from the policyholder in the case that he or she has privacy settings, can also be used to prove use of a device, she added.
Failure to submit this information can lead to an adverse inference by the courts, indicating that the insured possibly has something to hide.
Something as simple as liking a page at a time that coincides with the timeframe of an accident could implicate the policyholder, said Philippides. “It shows attention was diverted from driving.”
“The ordinary person on the street does not realize that what they are doing while operating on social media is accessible to anyone. If it is publicly available, anyone can use it, the right to privacy is basically waived.”

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

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