Lawyers are warning schoolies about the pitfalls of social media ahead of the festivities that begin next week.
Slater and Gordon lawyer Emma Aldersea said schoolies needed to be aware that aside from the social embarrassment that inappropriate posts could cause, online posts could also be used as evidence of criminal conduct.
“A lot of people forget that there is really no such thing as private posts on social media. Even Snapchat is not private as users are able to take screen shots of the messages they receive,” Ms Aldersea said.
“I understand that people want to let their hair down at Schoolies but it’s also important that people act within the law – that includes online.
Ms Aldersea said examples of unlawful behaviour that may be captured on social media included assaults, drug use, underage drinking, harassment and public nuisance offences. She also advised that schoolies needed to be particularly careful to avoid capturing and posting sexually explicit material.
“If you take, post or forward sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 18 you can be charged with some relatively serious criminal offences, including child pornography charges, even if you are a minor yourself and even if you have deleted the image,” she said.
“Cyberbullying, harassment, assault and public nuisance offences can also result in a criminal conviction.”
Ms Aldersea cited a recent case where two teens were charged with verbally assaulting a train guard, filming it and posting it online.
“It doesn’t just have to be you who is sexually, physically or verbally assaulting someone. If you film it and post it online, you can be charged too,” she said.
“Secretly recording someone – that is, without their consent – is also a criminal offence.
“Police in Queensland have flagged this week that that they may use similar technology used to monitor social media during the G20 to monitor schoolies.
“That means if you engage in illegal activity and post it online, police will know about it.”
Ms Aldersea said anyone who thought they had been the victim of a crime should report it to police immediately.
“The message for schoolies is act within the law, look after your mates and look after yourself,” she said.