Friday, November 16, 2012
Tweet what you like in Britain ... as long as you don't have many followers
I suppose we must be thankful for small mercies
It might be the one of the few occasions in life when it's better to be unpopular than have lots of friends. Twitter users who make 'grossly offensive' comments online could escape prosecution if they have barely any followers on the social media site, the Director of Public Prosecutions has suggested.
But those who are followed by thousands could face the full force of the law if they publish offensive remarks as more people will see them, Keir Starmer said in a conference speech earlier this week.
His remarks follow a row about free speech after a teenager in Kent was arrested earlier this week for allegedly posting a photo of a burning poppy on Facebook, reported the Daily Telegraph.
The arrest of Linford House, 19, prompted civil liberty groups to campaign for free speech, claiming police were threatening the man's rights to express himself - even if what he posted was insensitive.
Mr Starmer's comments come before he publishes guidelines to cope with the new issues arising from expression on social networks, after meeting with police, publishers and internet companies.
Daniel Thomas, a footballer from Port Talbot, Wales, was arrested in the summer after a homophobic message was posted from his Twitter account about Team GB Olympic diver Tom Daley.
But the 28-year-old was never prosecuted, in part because he only had only around a hundred followers - and while the content was offensive it was not seen as a criminal offence, the DPP said.