When it comes to social media and misuse, it is first essential to trace the individual responsible for the content. On many sites it is prominent to create content anonymously, thus it can prove to be difficult to trace an individual. Therefore, the EU General Data Protection Regulation was introduced on 25 May 2018, which only allows information to be available upon request. Although it can be easy to blame a site for certain content, they are protected under section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996, section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 and the E-Commerce Directive.
Despite not being responsible, website owners will mostly be under a duty to remove unlawful content. Social media platforms have policies preventing their services being used to commit infringement of third-party rights, harassment, impersonation or defamation. However, as many social media platforms are run by companies in the US, then they are governed under US law, which can be different to EU law. However, in 2016, Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook and YouTube signed a code of conduct with the European Commission stating how they will respond to unlawful hate speech posted by users.
WordPress.com only suspends blogs if they have violated terms of service. If a blog is reported then WordPress.com defer to the judgment of a court rather than assessing the legality of a case.
Bloggerspot.com is a Google product, which follows Google’s terms of service. This site clarifies harassment, content inciting violence and posting private information and impersonation are a violation of their content policies.
LinkedIn contains Professional community guidelines and what is permitted and rejected in their user agreement, which also highlights harassment, abuse and unwelcomed communication to other users is not tolerated. It encourages users to report inappropriate content. Based on experience, LinkedIn is quick to respond .
Facebook has a straight-forward procedure in order to make a complaint. Facebook’s community standards state that bullying, harassment and impersonation are not tolerated.
Twitter also contains a policy against intolerant behaviour as stated in their Twitter rules and terms of service.
YouTube, which operates under Google contains similar guidelines to the Blogger platform. They have a Reporting Centre for reporting one-off content that violates the community guidelines. They also tackle trade mark, copyright infringement, defamation and promotion of counterfeit goods issues. However, YouTube’s first response disables a video, leaving the text are URL still functioning. However, Subsequent action may be required to remove all aspects of the video.
From a recent case, a dating app refused to take account of an individual who repeatedly made fake profiles on their app in order to harass a user. The app owner relied on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, of US law as the creator of the app had not created the content. Eventually the case was dismissed. It could be argued this legislation permits any person to commit unlawful activity online as internet companies are not legally bound to protect users. Some users argue platforms such as Twitter and Facebook’s terms and conditions are only enforceable in court and unenforceable otherwise.
The internet is a powerful, yet lethal tool in destroying one’s life. The internet can prove to be the start of a relationship as well as the horrible end of a relationship. Many online relationships start of dreamy before taking a sour turn, which leads to revenge.
A recent case was encountered when a woman was in a fling, which led to her boyfriend uploading an inappropriate image of her on his Facebook profile, under his own name. Nevertheless, she also received numerous online harassment from people claiming to be the wives or girlfriends of men she had relationships with in the past. This level of harassment and threats are common to receive from people close to an ex-partner. However, through deep and thorough investigation the woman discovered her boyfriend had been harassing her in several forms, despite being in the form of a comforter for her. Once the woman ended her relationship this led to her fling targeting her family and resisting arrests. He then reported she was planning a bomb, which was a complete lie and finally led to his arrest. The issue at hand is that social media permits such horrendous behaviour and delays in reacting to such situations, which leads to an individual pondering on the thought of when such trauma may come to an end.
Social media is very broad, but it can often cause a clash between an individual’s personal and professional life. The impact of social media during and outside of employment hours can have a vicious influence on the future of an employee’s professional life.
In the case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust, a Christian employee posted a link on his Facebook, with a comment dejecting gay church marriages. This led to the individual’s dismissal from employment. However, it was held in the High Court the dismissal was wrongful as the employee was entitled to express his personal views on gay marriage and his Facebook account was not related to work purposes.
To conclude. Social media platforms have policies in place to prevent misconduct online. But when misconduct occurs then it mostly leads to the platforms being disassociated to the unlawful activity carried out and protecting themselves behind legislation. Nonetheless, social media can cause a strain on one’s employment, leading to dismissal when one expresses their personal views online. Despite one’s personal and professional lives being separate, social media combines the two which can in some cases destroy one’s professional life. This can occur through having some associations with colleagues online when expressing personal view, which can subsequently lead to them complaining to the individual’s employer, resulting in dismissal. Social media must be used appropriately and within limits as a small action could lead to severe consequences.