31 Oct 2017

Social Media Update - That Sinking Feeling!

by Verlie Oosthuizen, Partner, Durban,
Practice Area(s): Social Media / Cyber Crimes |

That sinking feeling… we have all experienced it before, when you press “send” on a Whatsapp message and it goes to the wrong person or the wrong group and you wish you could crawl into a hole…

Finally, Whatsapp messages can be deleted with the new “Unsend” feature and in some instances, you can save some face - but there are certain conditions:

1. It only works for messages that have been sent in the last seven minutes;
2. It only works if you and the recipient are using the latest version of Whatsapp;
3. The recipient will be aware that you have deleted the message as it will say “This message was deleted” in place of where the message was in the chat – this means inevitable questions;
4. If you delete the message, even though seven minutes has not passed, it does not mean that the recipient has not seen the message;
5. If the deletion is not successful, you will not be informed of that and so you may be in blissful ignorance that your undesirable message has been seen by the wrong people.

Legally, once “publication” has taken place (that is the message has been sent and seen by others), if the message is defamatory then you could be legally liable.  Also, any screenshot of the offending message only takes one second to take… which could be before you have had a chance to delete the message.

Still, this new feature could save us from many a cringeworthy moment. Thank you Whatsapp!