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Why Gigaba's Leaked Sex Tape Reminds Us to Stay Safe When Sexting

In the digital age, your life can change at the click of a button.

There’s nothing bad, wrong, or dirty about making a consensual sex tape. But however tempting it may be take it from stars like Paris Hilton and Kim K (and now our very own Malusi Gigaba): the chances those tapes get stolen or leaked may not be worth the consequences.

Today, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba revealed that a tape containing material ‘of a sexual nature’ is circulating among politicians and has been used in blackmail and extortion attempts against him.

Gigaba said the video was stolen from his cellphone and that he became aware of this just before his appointment as finance minister in March 2017. Gigaba took to Twitter saying that the tape was stolen during a phone hacking incident in 2016 or 2017 and that it was only meant to be viewed by his wife and himself.

Gigaba said he has refused to succumb to the blackmailing and extortion attempts and has reported it to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Gigaba then apologised to his family and the South African public for the ‘pain and embarrassment’ that the circulation of the video will cause.

 

While the minister’s video wasn’t meant to be seen by anyone, other than him and his wife, the harsh reality is a reminder to us all that the digital age is a scary place, and we need to be super aware when it comes to filming, taking images or sexting.

While the thrill of being filmed may be very exciting, you run the risk of letting others see you doing something very intimate and personal, naked. There are a few things to consider.

South African social media law experts Emma Sadleir and Tamsyn de Beer shared their legal advice gained from their experience in running one of South Africa’s leading social media law consultancies in their book titled, Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex. 

‘In the digital age, every single person who has an Internet connection or a smartphone has access to a public, often permanent platform, with a potential readership well beyond any newspaper. Worryingly, this access is instantaneous: there is no drafting, no thinking, no contemplating,’ says Sadleir.

‘Getting it wrong online has the potential to get you into some very serious trouble. Every status update, every tweet, every picture, is stored in a digital dossier of your life, and has the potential to bring about life-changing legal, reputational and disciplinary consequences for you,’ Sadleir and De Beer continue.

They advise to always think about the Five Ps. ‘If you wouldn’t want the Police, your Parents, your Principal, a Predator or a Potential employer to see it, don’t put it online,’ they advise.

Gigaba’s sex tape being hacked for political gain and blackmail is downright wrong and we feel for him. But it reminds us of the very real prospect of that DTF sext getting leaked, with or without your permission. Data breaches happen, like the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal that happened earlier this year. ICYMI, Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that did work for the Trump campaign, harvested raw data from up to 87 million Facebook profiles to target them with political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign. What’s the big deal? It’s a big deal because it means those roughly 87 million people’s personal information was improperly shared and use to possibly sway votes.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Centre, 90% of revenge porn victims are women. Among revenge porn victims, 93% reported significant emotional distress. With regard to their occupation, 55% of the respondents feared that their professional reputation would be ruined, while 39% said that the revenge porn actually affected their professional life.

While there is nothing wrong with NSFW sexting, you need to consider what will happen if things turn sour with your sex-tape SO. If you are dead keen to do it, then make a pact to destroy the file should your relationship status change.  Or, if you don’t want to risk it, delete the deed as soon as you’ve watched it, or just avoid it altogether. Remember, you have the power when it comes to sexting, and that power and whether – and what – you chose to send.

‘The reputational harm you will suffer by getting it wrong online is potentially far more serious than any legal or disciplinary consequences,’ advises Sadleir. ‘So practise reputation management. Every couple of months, Google yourself and see if any new mentions have popped up. A helpful tool to keep a tab on your online mentions is to register a Google Alert in your name.’

Rather safe than very very sorry.

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