Social media networks, in particular Twitter, have been under the limelight in the past week due to an outbreak of pictures claiming to identify the two killers of James Bulger, who was murdered 20 years ago. UK police have ordered social network users to stop outing the released murderers. Before the intervention, the picture had already been retweeted 100’s of times – it allegedly showed a picture of the killer as he looks today. Although the pictures now appear to have been removed from the social media sites, they are still sparking much speculation:
This is a prime example of both the power and speed of social media – within minutes an alleged picture of Venables was circulating with little the police or anyone else could do to quickly stop it. Now we hear that Twitter users who shared the picture could face a possible jail sentence!
The UK is starting to build up a track record of going after Twitter users. Many of us became aware of the do’s and don’ts of tweeting after the Lord McAlpine case. Lord McAlpine sought libel damages from Twitter users over incorrect insinuations linking him to child sex abuse. He has since dropped threatened legal action against Twitter users with fewer than 500 followers and is now concentrating on receiving £50,000 in damages from Mrs Bercow, in what is expected to be the first high court libel trial!
There are still so many social media users who are blissfully unaware of the law when it comes to posting on social media networks. We all constantly share updates, feelings and opinions on our social news feeds with little to no thought. Technology law expert, Luke Sconion said that Twitter users have felt a “safety in numbers”. However, there are now many areas where Twitter users can come unstuck.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia, Twitter Logo