Trial by social media

Cerebra Submitted by on the 27th of July 2016

A recap of #27dinner, 25 July 2016

The latest edition of 27dinner took place at GIBS in Johannesburg on 25 July with a lively panel discussion on ‘trial by social media’ – the impact of employee social media activity to businesses and the workplace.

The panel was made up of Livity Africa’s Zamandlovu Ndlovu, Mail & Guardian Editor-in-Chief Verashni Pillay, CliffCentral’s Gareth Cliff and legal expert Lucy Phillips of Consilium Legal, with our CEO Mike Stopforth moderating.

With the incredible knowledge and experience on the panel at their disposal, the audience was treated to a heated but informative debate around the limits of freedom of speech and the legal principles every company and employee should abide by in the age of social media.

Much of the discussion centered around the fascinating legal insights espoused by Lucy, while Verashni and Zama shared valuable views on the decisions an employer has to make when their employees are active on social media. Gareth, who successfully sued his employer after nearly losing his job in a social media controversy earlier this year, argued that freedom of speech is absolute, save for hate speech and other legal exceptions.

The panel also covered the vital topics of privilege and power in our modern society – discussions that have come to greater prominence in the social media age.


In all, the evening showed that while social media is a powerful tool for marketing and an important challenge to consider for businesses and employees alike, the broader cultural impact of democratised communications is a crucial point of debate in South Africa and the world alike.

As with most of these events, #27dinner was trending on Twitter, with the audience playing as important a role in the debate as the panelists. Here are some of our highlights from the conversation:

For more on the topic of avoiding the social media risks associated to your business, and educating employees, read about the Cerebra Academy here.