Twitter users with few followers may escape action over offensive tweets
13th Nov 2012 | 22:07
Lawmakers debate social media 'reach'
Social media users with few friends or followers may be more likely to get away with posting offensive material, whereas more popular accounts may face prosecution, under new laws.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Kevin Starmer QC is developing guidelines which will combat the growing influence of Twitter and Facebook, while also protecting the nature of free speech online.
According to a Telegraph report, Starmer said it may be appropriate for the reach of a social networking account to be taken into consideration before the police take action over "grossly offensive" tweets, mainly due to the sheer scale of potential offenses.
He said: "Millions of cases could potentially be put through our system. More cases than the combined number of every other offence on the statute book."
The apparent haste to establish boundaries comes following a host of recent incidents, which attracted the attention of the authorities (i.e. those who carry handcuffs and big sticks).
First came the arrest of a teenager who tweeted Olympic diver Tom Daley abuse regarding the death of his father. Despite Daley retweeting the message, the offender was was not prosecuted due to the relative obscurity of his Twitter account.
Just last week, a Kent man was arrested after posting a photo of himself burning a Remembrance Day Poppy on Facebook.
The arrests relate to section 127 of the Communications Act, which outlaws the sending of "grossly offensive" messages via telecoms networks.
Section 127 has "never quite had the focus it has had over the last 12 months," said Starmer.