In 2012, a 17-year old boy sent a malicious tweet to diver and gold medal hopeful, Tom Daley. The malicious tweet read, “You let your dad down I hope you know that.”
Tom Daley’s father had died of cancer the previous year and the boy who had made the malicious tweet was issued with a harassment warning.
Another arrest was made by Police of a 28 year old man who made a homophobic tweet towards Tom Daley. On arrest, the man informed Police that he had left his phone unattended and that someone had accessed his Twitter account on his phone as a prank.
The incidents were not isolated events and the UK government is attempting to crackdown on malicious tweets and Internet trolls.
In March (2012) the footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a match on 17th March after having a cardiac arrest. Liam Stacey was arrested after his malicious tweets were reported to Police including by formaer England Footballer, Stan Collymore.
Liam Stacey later pleaded guilty to the Racially Aggravated s4A Public Order Act 1986 and was sentenced to 56 days imprisonment. The Judge told Stacey:
“It was racist abuse via a social networking site instigated as a result of a vile and abhorrent comment about a young footballer who was fighting for his life. At that moment, not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation.
I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done. You committed this offence while you were drunk and it is clear you immediately regretted it. But you must learn how to handle your alcohol better.”
Another high profile case involved Paul Chambers who tweeted about blowing up an airport in January 2010 due to being annoyed at the cancellation of his flight.
Following the tweet, he was arrested by anti-terro Police, who searched his house and seized his laptop, desktop computer and mobile phone.
He was convicted, sentenced and lost his job as a result of the tweet, however, after a first unsuccessful appeal, successfully appealed his conviction at the High Court.
Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 concerns electronic messages that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.”
This section of the act makes it unlawful to send any electronic messages in the same way as if the perpetrator had said them in the street. So in the same way that you would normally be wary of what you say in the street, you should also be careful what you tweet.
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