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Loaded Tweets: at the intersection of law, social media, and the dissemination of sexually explicit material

Viviane Gosselin's picture

Sex Talk in the City blog

Let’s face it; the Internet has become the most popular “sexual educator” for people of all ages. In light of this, we’re using the section of the exhibition dedicated to exploring the ways people learn about sexuality (the Pedagogy Zone) to address the question of media literacy and the need for children and youth to cope with the barrage of sexually explicit material online (as consumer and creator).

In working on this, a Vancouver-based law firm offered to cover the cost of having their articling students look at the intersection of law, social media, and the dissemination of sexually explicit material. I just received the last version of their text and LOVE their idea of re-packaging key information in the form of tweets!

Here are couple of examples:

Text messages that describe sexual activity, or “sexting”, is only illegal if it describes unlawful sex. [105 characters]

Teens can be charged with a criminal offense for taking pictures/videos of obscene sexual activity and sending them to friends. [130 characters]

If you don’t teach your teens about privacy, sexuality and social media, where will they learn? [98 characters]

I asked the two law students to reflect on their experience working on this project:

This summer we were asked to do some legal research for the upcoming Sex Talk in the City Exhibition. Our focus was social media, which is relevant in today’s world of smart phones, posting, and instant technology in general. We also researched the evolution of consent by looking at legislation and court cases. These topics complement and contrast each other since social media is modern and contemporary while consent has a long history in Canadian law. The biggest challenge we faced was condensing all the information we found into an easy-to-read format for the exhibition, since the law in these areas is complex and always changing. But that is also what makes legal research so much fun, believe it or not! Being involved in this project has given us the opportunity to discover more about the evolving relationship between the law, social media, sexual activity, and consent. We hope that everyone involved in the exhibition — from the creators and staff to the public at large — will find these issues just as interesting as we did.

Emelie and Amanda are law students in Vancouver.

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