Social Media and the Law

It would be naïve to think that the things we say on social media networks go unnoticed, but they aren’t and like all things they can have consequences.

Take for instance the case of Ched Evan’s rape victim whose identity was disclosed over Twitter and Facebook. The 9 individuals involved have since been prosecuted and have had to pay her fines.

Similarly after accusing Chris Cairns of fixing a cricket game, defendant Modi has had to pay the cricketer damages.

The reality is what you say on these networks matters…

Like a publisher everything you post is your responsibility, so should you choose to use these mediums to make allegations or write discriminative comments, then you do run the risk of being prosecuted.

In the last 12 months alone there have been a number of cases where individuals have been charged for what they have said on Twitter and Facebook.

And they haven’t been without cause…

Many of these comments have breached or infringed a law, enabling those wrongly accused or identified to seek justice.

How can I be sure that what I post isn’t breaking the law?

 The most important thing to remember is that mediums such as Facebook and Twitter have the capacity to make anything you say go viral very quickly. Meaning should you make allegations against someone that you later regret, you won’t easily be able to take these comments back.

You will have responsibility for these words and as such will have to face the consequences of them.

That is why, whenever you choose to use these mediums it is important that you are mindful of everything you say as your words will not only be accessible to your friends, but to everyone else as well.

And should they break the law I.e. Communications Act 2003, Public Order Act 1986, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 or Sexual Offences (Amendments) Act 1992 then you too could find yourself amongst those being prosecuted.

So I cannot express my opinion?

Unfortunately the conversations you have on places such as Twitter cannot be treated like the ones you have with your friends down at the pub.

What you say on social media networks, even statements made on your behalf by a Social Media Agency,  can easily be accessed by thousands if not millions of people, so should they feel what you have said is abusive, discriminative or offensive, they can report you.

Yet this doesn’t mean you can no longer talk about what is on your mind…

You have just got to be aware of how your words could be interpreted so you cannot be accused of breaching a law.

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Written by Guest Contributor

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