AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

Twitter Controversy Across The Pond

Posted by rubenmarinbach on July 31, 2012

Apparently the British don’t mess around when it comes to what they allow on Twitter. Especially when it comes to the pride and joy of England’s Olympic diving team, Tom Daley. Reports surfaced today that a 17 year old had been arrested in the UK today after a string of angry tweets directed at Daley, who failed to win a medal in his Olympic event. The teens tweets were hotly contested from the start, telling the 18-year old Daley that he “let his dad down” (Daley lost his father to cancer last year). The tweets then turned from apologetic to aggressive, and within a matter of hours, the user’s twitter handle was trending, and the insults began pouring in against him. Eventually, authorities decided enough was enough and arrested the 17 year old on charges of “suspicion of malicious communication” through Twitter, which is illegal in Great Britain.

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The story got me thinking about internet law in America, and what would happen if this occurred in the United States. There have been countless similar situations across multiple social networks involving violence or verbal abuse towards public figures, and in my last post I described what YouTube is doing to combat “nasty” comments. But do you think that in America, something like this should be worthy of an arrest? As Americans, I consider us lucky to not have the strident internet restrictions that some other countries have. Where is the line drawn, however, between downright mean and illegal? Surely, some intent needs to be proven. It’s definitely not the last time we’ll see a story like this come out, but it sure shows how easy it is for a 17 year old kid who obviously wasn’t thinking clearly to mess up big time.

-Ruben Marinbach

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One Response to “Twitter Controversy Across The Pond”

  1. The first amendment is arguably the greatest constitutional strength of the USA. IT is also probably it’s second greatest weakness (behind the right to bear assault rifles). In most of Europe, racist language is criminalized. In the last twelve months alone, the U.K. has had at least a dozen arrests for racist tweets and social media posts.
    Is it a strength for Europe? Jury is still out but I see disturbing similarities between the United Kingdom (where I owned a home for a decade) and Soviet East germany. There are more CCTVs per capita in Britain than any country in the world. Buses, streets, stations, …it is impossible to walk 100 yards unwatched.

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