On the surface it would be easy to dismiss the news about 50cent declaring bankruptcy as blogzine gossip. Deeper delving would reveal the red tape pertaining to breaking the internet through unsolicited publishing of content.
50cent published an X-rated tape of another rapper’s ex-partner just out of spite. A lawsuit ensued. Ultimately a court jury found him guilty and he was ordered to pay $5million. Here’s how this case relates to content marketers. The nature of online platforms is that of virality aka “breaking the internet”. But there has been times when privacy has been invaded in the pursuit of popularity and hits. Let’s face it “sex sells” . The mix of celebs and sex easily produces viral content.
But the question raised in the heading of this post now comes into play from an African ( using South African as a springboard ) perspective. The local authority on publishing of online content, the FPB ( Film and Publication Board ) has drafted a policy that amongst other functions, aims to ensure that classification and compliance monitoring focuses on media content, rather than on platforms. While the policy has not yet been passed, it will change how online content is classified. Activists fear that it will chain the internet. While It takes no jury to classify sexual content, the feelers will be out for the “grey”content that often trends even though it’s offensive. Let’s look at a case to clarify the point.
A South African “soccer babe”, #Pulane (in case you have no clue who she is, head on to twitter and search) broke the internet when her nude pic went viral. There were conflicting statements about the publisher of this highly sensitive content. Later a statement from the lass said her ex boyfriend had leaked the image. Media outlets broadcasted a statement that said if the FPB would pass the Online Regulation Policy it would mean that those who were found responsible for publishing this X-rated piece of content would be in violation of law.
As mentioned before, it is easy to classify X-rated content, however what about innuendos content ?
Enter the specialist content marketer. The in-tune practitioner is one who is aware of policies and regulations that govern content. Digital Media Law Project published a piece about the 6 risks associated with publication. Let’s zone in on risk no. 2. “ Usually, people run into trouble in this area when they use someone’s name or photograph in a commercial setting, such as in advertising or other promotional activities. But, some states also prohibit use of another person’s identity for the user’s own personal benefit, whether or not the purpose is strictly commercial. “ The latter part of the quoted passage can refer to the innocent use of photographic material for non commercial purpose, like a Meme ?! So when offering strategic advice on a campaign it would be NOT to use Memes that were not authored or published originally.
Online Regulatory Policy might be a new frontier for Africa, but in connected countries like the UAE where in December 2011 there were 56 Internet users per 100 inhabitants, online regulation has been long in existence. Emirates’ TRA (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) also has a policy to chain down, amongst other things, the online publishing of content relating to terrorism. The in-tune practitioner would advise their client to for example NOT watch any propaganda videos. See : http://ewn.co.za/2015/07/17/Remaining-5-South-Africans-arrested-in-China-to-return-home
Ultimately there will always be an outcry when freedom of expression is challenged. However given the malicious intentions of some netizens, it is not a bad thing after all to have regulation that protects the innocent and the ignorant. Savvy content marketers need to be well versed in the books that govern online publishing. This will protect clients. As for the other published content that is NOT for commercial purposes, someone still has to decide if it is breaking the internet or otherwise.