Social Media & The Law

The creation of the internet led into an era of new social media platforms that have been created to keep us interconnected with each other and current affairs. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have gained an overwhelming amount of users that visit on a daily basis. The implication that comes from the masses of social media is the slow convergence of Law onto the internet and it’s effectiveness.

The nature of the internet has ultimately resulted in the need to create new legislation, as it has become apparent that what many users were posting could be seen as hurtful or inappropriate. However the creation of legislations takes time to come into practice, by which time thousands of people will continue to create unsuitable posts or comments.

An example of law and social media making a promising convergence that I personally witnessed was during the 2012 olympics. After Tom Daley came fourth in synchronised swimming, he received a hateful tweet on Twitter from a user. The user said that he had let his father down. As a result of that tweet, the user was arrested on suspicion of malicious communications. The link to this article is below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19059127

You may think this means, ‘Great, it’s sorted then! Law is integrated into Social Media’. However the implications continue. Millions of users use Facebook and Twitter on an hourly basis, it is simply therefore an unrealistic task to monitor everyones comments and posts. The outcome is that the practical use of legislations related to social media has high limitations and will continue to do so. This there a way around it? Perhaps having a computer system that can monitor posts to evaluate if they contain hateful comments, but how reliable would it be? Is this something we simply just have to live with?

-Lewis King

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