Outing ‘rapists’ on anonymous groups: Why you should not do it

Naming and shaming your alleged rapist anonymously on social media has serious legal consequences.
Naming and shaming your alleged rapist anonymously on social media has serious legal consequences.
Image: 123RF/canjoena

Naming and shaming an alleged rapist anonymously on social media has serious legal consequences.

Media lawyer Willem de Klerk told TimesLIVE that it is dangerous to out someone as a rapist on social media as they have every right to pursue charges of criminal defamation.

Last week the brutal rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, allegedly by a Post Office employee, sparked social media users to name and shame their alleged offenders online.

A number of social media users have been naming and shaming alleged offenders, with many accusations of sexual assault and harassment being made against men.

Anonymous accounts on Twitter have been “exposing” alleged rapists by posting their names and pictures after receiving messages from women with a description of what was allegedly done to them.

“The allegations have serious legal consequences for all involved and might do more harm than good," said De Klerk.

“A person who has been accused on social media could sue for defamation because they would effectively be found guilty by civil action. You would have to prove if this accusation is true."

He also noted that the accuser could not only run the risk of being sued for defamation, but could also be criminally charged with infringement of dignity.

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