UK law on social media under review

Social Media Law training

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service is to hold discussions with the legal professions, academics and representatives from Facebook and Twitter, on free speech via social media.

It follows the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the UK telling the BBC that "the right to be offensive has to be protected".

The discussions follow a series of high profile incidents in which some users of social media have been jailed for comments posted online.

The comments made by the users would be deemed offensive by almost everyone, but the argument being made seems to be that these people were still entitled to their views.

Social media law

They include comments about a missing, presumed murdered, child, that saw a Facebook user jailed for 12 weeks.  Other cases referenced are:

On average there are approximately 50 complaints a week in the UK about posts on social media channels and the DPP suggests that current legislation makes it difficult for prosecutors to apply the law reasonably.

He says the UK may look to introduce a split system that accounts for whether comments represent a "credible threat", with others classified as "offensive or grossly offensive".

Social media channel representatives are being invited because some consider they should be asked to enforce swifter moderation and for the swifter removal of offensive content.

The BBC has said that it has been contacted by some UK Police forces who believe their time is being wasted on 'petty rows online'.

The DPP said that he believes the threshold for prosecution must be high and that free speech must be protected when you live in a democratic country.

He said "People have the right to be offensive, they have the right to be insulting and that has to be protected".

This could prove a very interesting change in direction indeed, and will of course be of interest to all those posting social media content, whether you're an individual with a personal account or a multi-national company using social media for marketing or customer services.

We'll keep watching this one for news and developments and bring them to you as soon as possible.



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