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Understanding Social Media Law

With the rise of social media in recent years, there have been subsequent laws put in place that everyday users may not be aware of. Here are the basics that every social media user should know before they start tweeting and sharing their way into court.

Don’t Tell Lies
What you might think is a harmless joke or opinion that you have shared, may result in you facing severe legal consequences. According to research that was carried out by Wiggin, 46% of 18-24 year-olds are unaware that they could be sued for tweeting a rumour about an individual. According to the Defamation Act 2013, if a false statement causes serious harm to a person’s reputation it is classed as libellous.
A fact that shocks many is that you don’t even have to have posted the original rumour to be libel, retweets and reposts may also see you facing the consequences.

Don’t Go Trolling
It is a well-known fact that online abuse such as trolling it commonplace. In 2015, 25% of 13 to 18 year-olds were victims of trolling and every day five internet trolls are convicted.
The Crown Prosecution Service has issued guidelines regarding trolling. The law will intervene under certain circumstances including grossly offensive or threatening remarks or a campaign of harassment specifically targeting an individual. The threats will also need to seem credible. Trolling falls under criminal law, and so it is up to the police and prosecutors to make a judgement.

Don’t Steal Photos
Copyright law basically states that when a person creates something, they can decide who else has access to it. This is the same in the online world as it is in the real world. The use of a photograph or video posted online without the creator’s permission could be a breach of copyright. To avoid prosecution, you should request permission from the creator for every photo or video that you post on social media.

Don’t Expect Privacy
Social media users need to be aware that privacy doesn’t fully exist in the online world. No matter how private you make your profile, certain exemptions allow interventions of your online privacy if it is deemed necessary to society by policing operations.
Even private messaging is not strictly safe as employers are within their rights to read their worker’s private messages sent during working hours.

These are some basic rules when it comes to the etiquette and law of social media that we found interesting. If you would like more information on social media law, click here. 

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