Wits VC taken to task over photo tweet

Habib was attacked for sharing a photo that he said was from Gaza, when it was actually from Syria, earlier this year. Photo: Twitter

Habib was attacked for sharing a photo that he said was from Gaza, when it was actually from Syria, earlier this year. Photo: Twitter

Unverified photos and information often don’t get very far on social media platforms as networks of people around the world are quick to react to and correct any improper use.

This is exactly what Wits vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib realised this past Sunday as one of his tweets, containing an incorrectly attributed photograph, attracted close to 60 responses in less than an  hour.

Habib used a picture from the Syrian conflict that was taken in February this year and incorrectly atrributed it to the current conflict in Gaza.

The photo that shows the legs of a corpse sticking out from underneath rubble had been mistakenly used on social media several times in the last few weeks.

“The consequences of Obama’s defense of Israel’s war in Gaza. How could we have allowed him to talk at Madiba’s funeral,” Habib tweeted.

Following the reponses to Habib’s tweet, he apologised and later tweeted, “the photo was copied from an earlier tweet.”

But he remained resolute in his point, tweeting that he “could find another photo to demonstrate this but what would be the point.”

“Let’s deal with the substance -children are dying,” Habib tweeted.

The incident happened at a time when the circulation of false information, and in particular, photos, is occurring more frequently via social media platforms.

But coupled with the ease of sharing information, is the ability to share unverified information which can be damaging.

In the case of Malaysia Airlines flights 17 and 370, a story about a Dutch cyclist who was booked to go on both flights (but at the last minute changed his mind) was widely circulated a week ago.

However, it was soon discovered that there was no proof that 29-year-old Maarten de Jonge ever bought a ticket.

In these instances, fiction becomes fact very quickly as information is taken out of context or passed off as the truth. The impact and consequences of sharing fale information can be dangerous, especially because information can reach more people, in a shorter amount of time.

The rise and rise of the selfie

Mxit came first, Facebook followed, Twitter was not far behind  but while each of these social media platforms was growing, the “selfie” was quietly establishing as one of the hottest trends in recent times.

If you’ve been buried under a rock somewhere, a selfie  is a picture or photograph taken by one’s self and shared on social media platforms. There are different kinds of selfies taken daily, by celebrities and ordinary people alike.

There is even a song about selfies by the band the Chainsmokers. But while their popularity is undisputed, the motivation for this trend is not quite clear.

Academics, psychologists and sociologists alike are still probing the obsession with the self-image and the need to share almost every moment via  a turned-around camera. Studies so far have have shown that selfies are an indication of a person’s obsession with appearance and the need for attention which is largely attributed to a low self- esteem or narcissism even.

People compete for the perfect selfie in all sorts of settings, including the gym, at a party out with friends,  just lazing around or studying in their rooms. For others it is about a new hairstyle, a hot outfit or their make-up.

“I usually take selfies when I have a new hairstyle, I take a lot of selfies then,” says 4th year Social Work student, Sinethemba Nkosi.

For Nomvelo Chalumbira, 2nd year BA student, she takes selfies when she is out with friends in a new place or on holiday, and sometimes when she is really bored when studying.

She added, “I don’t take them often at all, because I feel like it’s very vain and most of the time when I take them, I’m in a comfortable space with people I’m comfortable with or where I’m comfortable myself.”

SAY CHEESE: A group selfie.

SAY CHEESE: A group selfie with some of #teamvuvu.      Photo By: Illanit Chernick

Selfies are not a big deal for Silindokuhle Mavuso who is studying a BSc Honours in Geology and Palaeontology, “I barely take selfies, maybe one or two a month and if I take one it’s because I’m drunk with friends.”

Selfies are intimate and relate one’s personal experiences. But because of the belief that “if it’s not on social media, it did not happen,” content like selfies is readily shared on social media.

Nkosi says, “Most of the time I use them as DP [profile picture] for BBM or Whatsapp and Facebook.”

Mavuso who thinks taking selfies is conceited and pointless, tries to avoid taking them. He believes, as Chalumbira does that, taking a selfie is a very vain thing to do.

Whatever your feelings about them though, the popularity of the selfie is such that the word has been added to the Merriam-Webster English dictionary.

It was announced this week that the word, defined as an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks,” will now join other terms like ‘tweep’ and ‘hashtag’ in the  dictionary. 



OPINION: Addicted to social media, and loving it!

ANTI-SOCIAL?:  Recent anti-social media campaigns have criticized generation Y's of being out of touch with the world. Photo:  Lameez Omarjee

ANTI-SOCIAL?: Recent anti-social media campaigns have criticised ‘Generation Y’ of being out of touch with the world. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Hi, my name is Lameez and I am addicted to social media.

They say the first step to recovery is admission. Only, I am not in denial and I have no plans to recover.

I think Mark Zuckerberg is gangsta and the only regret I have is not dropping out of school to start a multi-billion dollar company by the age of 23, myself. If this journalism thing does not work out, I am asking Mark for a job, to finally  put my other degree to good use.

Anti-social media campaigns have ironically gone viral. I have watched the videos. I recognise myself, looking at the screens and not “being in touch” with the world.

But these anti-social initiatives are not the most objective videos telling only one side of a story which on its own sounds ominous for future generations.

The video where the man misses the chance to meet the love of his life because he is too busy looking down at his screen and subsequently misses the feeling of holding his grandson in his arms, thirty years later is so overly dramatic! I can Google tons of people who found love on the internet, they are all on Craigslist.

People say social media makes you anti-social. What the “deuce?” (I learnt that from reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, Sherlock Holmes, so, contrary to popular belief, I do actually read).

Sure, I hate it when my dad does not hear what I am saying because he is too busy playing Candy Crush on his iPad, but have you ever played Candy Crush? Have you watched a vine? Do you know what YouTube can teach you?

I use Google and Wikipedia to expand my general knowledge and using that knowledge I contribute to an international community of bloggers where I get to exchange ideas with talented writers and learn to improve my own work.

“Each day the number of avenues for you to express yourself creatively on the web are growing.”

I am more in touch with the world because of social media.

As an introvert, social media has given me opportunities to voice my opinions appropriately assertively, on platforms where people with differing values and perceptions can engage with me.


I know the closest relationship I have is with my smartphone. But at least he does not hang out in other people’s pockets. And when he gets boring I can always replace him with a better model.

Want to avoid someone? There’s an app for that!


HIDING OUT: The Split app helps you avoid people by using geo-location information from social media sites. Photo: Tracey Ruff

Social media has made connecting with people really simple and easy but what if you don’t really feel like bumping into your crazy ex the next time you step out?

Responding to the need for people to avoid each other at times, a new mobile phone app called ‘Split’, was released last week. The app makes use of information from social media websites, using geo-location data, to alert the user when someone they are trying to avoid is within their vicinity.

[pullquote align=”right”]”What if I’m in a relationship, but my boyfriend uses it and finds out I’m with my second boyfriend?”[/pullquote]

Udi Dagan, the app’s creator, came up with the idea after a night out ended in an uncomfortable scenario for him. “The idea for Split was born on a frustrating night, about two years ago, when I ran into my ex-girlfriend in a bar,” he told ubergizmo.com. “After a few awkward minutes, I hurriedly gathered my friends out of there and into another pub down the street, where I literally bumped into another ex … not a good night.”

The app, available free for iOS and Android devices, uses geo-location information from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare of the people you want to avoid and alerts you when they are nearby. It also suggests an escape route on a map for you to make your get away, and even notifies you if they are attending the same Facebook events as you.

“I think it’s really cool!” said Lethabo Kutumela, a first-year BComm Accounting student from the University of Johannesburg. “It’s something lots of people would want to have. I’d use it if I had a fight with my boyfriend, or if I was trying to avoid a stalker.”

The app does raise questions about privacy, however, as it provides the location and movements of people without notifying them in any way.

“I never want that app,” said Semkelisiwe Makhoba, a first year Film and Production student at Wits. “It’s too personal; people will know where I am and what I’m doing. It could also get you into trouble. What if I’m in a relationship, but my boyfriend uses it and finds out I’m with my second boyfriend?”

Split is not the first anti-social app to become available. A similar app called Cloak was released a few weeks before Split and offered the same opportunities to avoid people, although it only used information from Foursquare and Instagram.



Hashtags and retweets

A BLUEBIRD is the latest investigative tool, according to Ray Joseph, social media expert and journalist.
In presentation, Joseph gave tips on how to build a professional profile:

  • Journalists should have a clear and descriptive twitter biography. They should also have a proper profile picture. “If you want to be a trusted source you can’t have an egg.”
  • If journalists use twitter for professional reasons, they should link it to a larger website. “Put your link to LinkedIn or a professional website.”
  • Hashtags are important. Journalists should play around with and use them to find out about breaking stories and news stories. Hashtags are like metal filing cabinets that help organise documents. “At the heart of twitter lies hashtags. They help you sort through the noise.”

Joseph emphasised the importance of twitter as a search tool for journalists.
“Journalists aren’t always the first people on the scene so social networks help you receive the news first,” he said.

Make law not love

THE TWITTER sphere has been running amok with explicit sexual content from South Africa, inviting questions about the legality of sexy social media.


Recent Sex scandals on social media

Recently, South African twitter was abuzz after a man leaked nude photos of a woman, allegedly his ex-girlfriend, because he was in “a fit of rage” after they broke up.

The woman’s pictures were then retweeted and shared across twitter to the point where #nudes was trending in South Africa.

Closer to home was the “Wits Sex tape”, which was uploaded onto a blog and shared by many on campus and around the country. The tape trended for 72 hours and people were still asking for links to it even though the blog had already been deleted.

At Rhodes, a “Gossip Girl” account tweeted a picture of a man and a woman naked in a university dorm room and in a sexual position. Tweeters such as Michelle Solomon (@mishsomolon) called for the account to be reported for sharing explicit content.

The Rhodes University alumni account (@RhodesAlumni) tweeted that what the account was doing was illegal and that the account should be closed. The account was shut down soon afterwards.

However, while the twitter sphere enjoys posting and sharing illicit sex tapes and nude photos, the repercussions for doing so, for both the original posters and those who retweet, can be severe.


Legal implications of distributing sexual content [pullquote align=”right”]”The crimen injuria route would mean that the person who has distributed private content unlawfully could serve jail time.”[/pullquote]

According to media law expert Dario Milo, if the person depicted has not given consent for a sex tape or nude photo to be distributed then they have legal recourse.

Milo said those who had made sex tapes or nude photos but had them published without their consent have three legal routes they may follow.

A person can sue for invasion of privacy and have a court interdict to have the content removed.

A person can sue for damages if publication causes them to lose their job or if it results in their reputation being damaged.

The third legal route is to make a complaint of “crimen injuria”, unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person,” to the police.

The crimen injuria route would mean that the person who has distributed private content unlawfully could serve jail time.


Even retweets can get you arrested

Milo said those who shared or retweeted the content were also not on safe legal ground and could be held liable along with the person who originally posted the content without consent.

He said it was important that people realised that even if both parties had consented to making a sex tape or taking nude photos, that does not mean they consented to its distribution.

“Consent for one purpose does not mean consent for another purpose,” said Milo.

The moral of the story is, think twice before posting that naked picture or sex tape of that ex-lover you are angry with.


Wits Twitter War: DASO vs SRC

Wits Twitter War: DASO vs SRC

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation at Wits, is set to petition against the #right2protest campaign headed by the SRC.

Storified by Wits Vuvuzela · Tue, May 07 2013 06:01:06

#right2protest silence is complicity! Make your voice heard outside the matrix pic.twitter.com/2cSDhrwIKLMSAWits
SRC-accused want a public trial | Wits VuvuzelaApr 26, 2013 … THE SRC is calling for a public trial for 11 students—nine of whom are SRC members—who have been charged for possible …
The SRC interrupted a music recital during Israel Apartheid Week in March. Following the disruption several SRC members were charged with “contravention of the University’s code of conduct”. The campaign is centred around getting the charges dropped. 
We urge students to support the 11 Charged students by emailing ‘drop charges’ to chlewis@iafrica.com #right2protestWitsSRC
urge all progressive forces to email "drop charges" to chlewis@iafrica.com to support wits students #right2protest"@ButiManamelaFeziwe Ndwayana
Support @WitsSRC in their call for @WitsUniversity management to drop charges against the 11. @ancylhq @ANCYL_GP @ANC_YOUTH #right2protestGontse Gabbana
@karynmaughan support @WitsSRC for charges to be dropped by @WitsUniversity management. Charged for stomping feet & singing #Right2ProtestThato Emm
*vluits* "@WitsSRC: #Right2Protest Kubi kubi kubi s’yaya s’yaya s’yaya kuyoProtesta. Noma besithulisa, s’yaya, besithuka, s’yaya s’yaya !!"Phila Parker
When a university undermines our #Right2Protest , it’s only fair that we fight back. Join the movement.Pearl Pillay
@JubesHcom2013 is fully behind the @WitsSRC @WitsPYA and other students who are charged,we as students have the #Right2Protestpamela mpumelelo
Just received word that all five faculty councils have declared support for the #Right2Protest campaign. Cc @WitsSRCSibulele Mgudlwa
DASO responded by tweeting against the #right2protest campaign. 
#Right2Protest #DontBeFooled @Jarrod_Delport @deekhay @msayanvala @WitsVuvuzela @WitsSRC @USibulele twitpic.com/copwgaLuyolo Mphithi
We call on @WitsSRC to be held accountable! #Right2Protest email kiriti.menon@wits.ac.za to endorse chargesDASO Wits
@TazEssop14 src members disrupted an approved event which was attended by members of the public who paid for ticketsMohammad Sayanvala
@TazEssop14 @DASOWits @WitsSRC We support the #right2protest, but we condemn actions that violate the uni code of conduct.Mohammad Sayanvala
Some people mistake their #right2protest with a supposed right of disrupt and destruct…Mohammad Sayanvala
The rebut from SRC members and other tweeps, did not seem to take kindly to DASO’s criticism. 
@DASOWits don’t be on the wrong side of history, criticising @WitsSRC for the #right2protest is denying a Constitutional Right!Tasneem
But these people of DASO are annoying maan, what sort of nonsense have they written on that stupid poster…rha maan!!pamela mpumelelo
The DA shouldn’t even be called a Political Party. They’re like a nursery school for the ideologically bankrupt.Pearl Pillay

“Wits sex tape” causes storm

A “WITS sex tape” made by two students has been a hot topic of debate this week, blowing up on twitter and radio.

The six-part, 30 minute sex tape begins with the male student positioning the camera. The woman, whose name is known to Wits Vuvuzela, then begins performing oral sex.

The woman from the sex tape refused to speak with Wits Vuvuzela, but it was confirmed by a close friend that the woman is still a Wits student and the couple have been dating for years.

A source close to the girl told Wits Vuvuzela on Sunday: “Well she and her boyfriend made the sex tape long ago and she didn’t know it was online.

She had been trying to get hold of her boyfriend  [on Sunday] but he was not answering his phone.”

The source said she thought her friend was in denial about the tape going viral judging from her reaction when told about it.

“Oh well, at least I look hot,” she told her friends.

The sex tape was trending on twitter for more than 72 hours early in the week. Some students had mixed feelings about the sex tape, while most were just trying to get in on the most talked about topic on twitter. The tape was uploaded in six parts last November, on the Blacknudes mobile porn blog under the title “Wits girl love”.   The blog has since been deleted.

Many tweets rolled in speculating whether or not the couple was aware that they were being filmed, but it is clear from the tape that they knew they were  on camera.

The man positions the camera before the woman looks directly into the camera, saying: “So yeah, hey like we’re about to fuck.”

On Wednesday morning a man claiming to be in the tape was interviewed on the Yfm breakfast show hosted by Moeti Tsiki and Khutso Theledi.

During his anonymous interview with Yfm, the man claimed it had been filmed by his dad. However, many tweets flew in saying that the man being interviewed was a liar and that he was only trying to gain fame and publicity.



DA lays charges against Cosatu

Published in the 14th Edition of the Vuvuzela, page 3

By Lisa Golden and Jay Caboz


AFTER the violent clash between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu in Braamfontein on Tuesday, the DA has laid an official charge of intimidation, inciting violence, and holding an illegal gathering against Cosatu at the Hillbrow police station.

Both sides have ­­accused each other of starting the violence by throwing rocks and stones after meeting on Jorissen Street. Several protesters and journalists were injured, including a Wits student, Dikeledi Selowa.

The march to  Cosatu House was to hand over a memorandum in support of youth wage subsidies, a proposal, that according to the DA would create 420 000 jobs for youths.

Cosatu had warned the DA against marching for the subsidy, as they directly oppose it and likened it to labour brokering which will encourage exploitation of workers.

Since the clash, a hailstorm of ‘he-said she-said’ comments flared across various media platforms.

DA leader Helen Zille took to Twitter to vehemently deny that DA supporters were involved in the violence, saying, “I was standing on a truck with a good 360 deg. view. I saw two rolled newspaper pages thrown by DA but no rocks or stones.”

DA leadership urged their supporters not retaliate to the Cosatu aggression, and started a chant of “We are peaceful”.

However, Star journalist Ihsaan Haffejee was quick to point out that he had taken photographs of marchers in DA shirts throwing rocks and other projectiles. Vuvuzela has similar photographs.

Patrick Craven, spokesperson for Cosatu said in a statement “COSATU, as it always does, condemns these acts of violence unreservedly, but stresses that the vast majority of its members conducted themselves with exemplary discipline and restraint, despite the provocative nature of the demands being made by the DA.”

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey accused the metro police at the march of bias. Supporters continually called out to the police to arrest Cosatu supporters who were “openly throwing rocks” in their direction.

One Cosatu supporter in an ANC Youth League t-shirt brandished a stun-gun and managed to stun some DA supporters. No attempt was made by the police to restrain or arrest him.

The police have come under further criticism, because of their initially weak presence and their inability to control the violence on both sides.



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