Many of the texts, images, audios, videos, and GIF that circulate on WhatsApp show something that happened in real life and are shared online with the possibility of being reported.
Is sharing video and photos on WhatsApp a crime?
Videos of celebrities drunk, traffic accidents, fights between people and even rape, as well as photos of dead people and embarrassing situations are part of the large content archive that is spread by messages on WhatsApp.
The app seems to be a "land without laws" for the speed and volume of content that spreads without scruples in it. But take note: there are laws.
It is essential to pay attention to the content you received before sharing it in your groups. This is because, depending on what we send, it could cost us a complaint about defamation, libel or slander. The penalties depend on the country where it occurs.
"In fact, regardless of the law, those who share a video that is exposing a person, is not helping at all," reflects Rodrigo Nejm, director of education in SafernNet Brazil, an NGO that acts in the analysis and prevention of crimes in Internet. "What helps is to denounce the event, comment, demonstrate, show repudiation, but never expose the victim or the violence itself ."
Should I delete the photo for the person's safety?
Sharing a video in which the victim's face was altered can imply a crime and be considered an apology for the crime.
"In a case that is public knowledge, for example, if it is possible to identify who is the victim, the judge can understand that the motivation was to incite defamation," warns lawyer Thiago Serralva Huber.
In these cases, it doesn't mean to share the content and delete the video from your cell phone. There are serious risks in sharing a material that exposes a person. If the person is the victim of a crime, sharing the fact does not help to solve it. Not only will the person in the video be held accountable but also the person who shared it.
What are some of the crimes on WhatsApp? Read below:
#1) Sexual abuse and child pornography
There are innumerable cases of videos and photos of sexual nature that circulate on WhatsApp. Recently, many people received images of the collective rape of a girl, which occurred in Rio de Janeiro. The case mobilized all of Brazil.
The alert is clear to those who disclose this type of material: "The person who does it is participating in a very serious act of violence because he or she does not have rights over the material, which also involves them in the culture of violence against women," Rodrigo reflects. The same logic applies to cases in which women's nudes are shared among friends or other WhatsApp contacts.
"The disclosure of a video of rape can be considered a serious crime, the situation is worse when it comes to pedophilia. Disseminating or even storing pornographic material of children and adolescents is grounds for imprisonment," explains lawyer Thiago Huber.
To stay safe before the law, it is recommended to delete any content of that nature from your phone. If the sending is recurrent, regardless of the reason, the user must find means to defend themselves: if the material is sent in a group of WhatsApp it is recommended to leave the conversation.
If a person is sending you the material directly on a daily basis, it is best to have the incident recorded to document the case. It is important to remember that, thanks to the internet civil framework, your cable company must remove the content as soon as it is notified.
#2) What to do in the case of a bullying video?
Sharing videos of bullying in which there is psychological or physical violence against a person also fits with the profile of a crime of defamation. "It happens that this type of crime depends on how the victim is represented," explains the lawyer.
That is, the victim needs to make the authorities aware of the case so that the judiciary can mobilize.
#3) Videos of people in embarrassing incidents
You have probably received images of celebrities under the influence of drugs and in embarrassing situations.
The propagation of this content is also typified as defamation. It is important to remember that comments made about the material at the time of disclosure are taken into account if the user is prosecuted.
Whoever makes and publishes the video on the internet can still answer for moral and material damages and pay compensation to the victim so that no more acts of this type are committed.
#4) Videos of dead people
Videos and photos of accidents, dead people, and images of injured people should not be disclosed. You could disrespect the corpse and that is a crime of vilification (contempt or humiliation of the body). These crimes are punishable by imprisonment.
#5) Videos with music and images without copyright
A video of popular music, a montage with photos of people (famous or anonymous) or images that were not yielded by their authors also damage copyright.
Sharing that type of material without consent is a crime whose severity of the sanction will depend on the country. The person shown in the image can also gather evidence to request compensation. In that case, it is also worth reporting the publication through social networks (or in the case of WhatsApp, take screenshots and communicate to the authorities).
How to report?
Using the mechanisms of social media and WhatsApp to report inappropriate and criminal content is a way out. In the terms Stay Safe on WhatsApp, the company itself guides users to search the authorities to report content that they understand as problematic:
"We ask you to report the content that you consider problematic. Keep in mind that, to ensure the security and confidentiality of your communications, we generally do not have access to the content of any message. This restricts our ability to verify the complaint and take appropriate action. When necessary, you can create a screenshot of content and, along with contact details and other context elements, share it with the authorities."
If you are close to the victim, save the message history, take screenshots or save the conversation, help create evidence for a valid process with the justice systems.
How to defend yourself?
If you were a victim of exposure, the first step is to seek help in the "real world": have a support network with family, friends, lawyers, and psychologist. Register any crime committed against you by reporting it on social networks or with WhatsApp support. If possible, file a complaint with the local authorities.
For the safety of its users, WhatsApp has its user policies open to all public: the company states that you can only access its services for legitimate, authorized and acceptable purposes.
This means that, from the moment the person creates an account in the application, you can not use it to violate, appropriate or infringe the rights of WhatsApp, other users or third parties, including rights of privacy, publicity or other rights of intellectual property.
WhatsApp also reports that users can not use it in an "illicit, obscene, defamatory, threatening, intimidating, harassed, hateful, offensive in racial or ethnic terms" nor to incite illegal or inappropriate behavior, "including incitement to violent crimes."
If one of these terms is violated, the company has the ability to suspend the account of who made the fault and not allow to create another without prior permission of the app.
Encrypted WhatsApp content
The content of WhatsApp messages is encrypted end-to-end. Only the people involved in the conversation have access to messages, audios, links, and images.
Not even WhatsApp has access to that content. "By this mechanism, what we see is that every time the authorities need to have WhatsApp, they manage to pass only information such as the schedule and the day of the conversation," Rodrigo clarifies. "But we have to think as if WhatsApp were a telephone: if someone commits a crime over the phone, we can not blame the telephone operator for what happened."
It depends on the common sense of the users and the representation of the victim so that crimes on the Internet do not go unpunished.
This article was originally published on VIX Brasil by Nathália Geraldo.
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