Social Media Creates New Laws

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While pretty much every single one of us is now social media savvy with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BBM and Whatsapp being a big part of our everyday lives, did you know that usage could actually land you in serious trouble with new ‘media laws’? 

Last December saw one of the worst mass-shootings in recent years at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conneticut which resulted in the death of twenty children and six staff members. As an outlet for the grief of friends and families of the victims, several Facebook memorial pages were set up to allow the world to express their condolences. However, Facebook has recently been forced to close some of these pages down as, instead of sending messages of sympathy, some individuals had been spamming the pages with conspiracy theories, derogatory comments about the victims and tasteless jokes concerning the event.

Facebook isn’t the only form of social media under this type of ‘trolling’ attack. In recent years, Twitter has been involved in several cases involving the courts. Lord McAlpine faced false accusations of paedophilia and child sex offences from Twitter users last year which became the first case of someone exercising their right to use social media content in a court case which resulted in fines. More recently, the Attorney General has launched an investigation in relation to the release of images on Twitter said to be of child killer Jon Venables. An injunction has been put in place to prevent the photos from being seen by the public as it has been estimated that thousands were able to view to image on the social media site.

While I’m not suggesting that you all use social media to access and spread gossip of this kind, you still have to be extremely careful when using your favourite sites. After it was revealed that many of the individuals involved in the 2011 London Riots communicated through BBM, the Government have been cracking down on the use and content of social media. A hurtful comment won't land you in legal trouble, but new media laws state that statements or accusations that can cause substantial harm could give individuals the right to take you to court. Similarly, the spread of classified information, as in the case of Jon Venables identity, is seen as contempt of court.

However, in light of this, many have argued that these laws infringe on our right to free speech. While this is a fair comment, it has proven difficult as to how far this right can and should be exercised as the damaging effects, for example on Lord McAlpine’s reputation, can negatively impact on someone’s life. 
So while we all love a good gossip, just ensure you keep a check on what you say!

Image Credits: http://www.smh.com.au/,  recruitmentbuzz.co.uk

About The Author

Hello! I'm Jess, avid writer, full of grand travel plans and slightly addicted to chai. As well as writing for HerCampus (and singing loudly in the shower) I run my own blog at www.mismatchedknitwear.com where I talk about my day-to-day life, post lots of filtered photographs and talk about food a lot. Somehow this got me into the finals of the Cosmo Blog Awards 2013. I don't know either...
 

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