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Government warns Facebook and Twitter users over contempt of court

Claims it's not about censorship
Wed Dec 04 2013, 16:39
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THE UK GOVERNMENT has warned Facebook and Twitter users to be careful about what they post on the internet, hoping to prevent social media users from committing contempt of court.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC said on Wednesday that he will send out court advisory notes, which have previously been issued only to print and broadcast media outlets on a "not for publication" basis, to bring contempt laws up to date to include social media outlets.

Grieve has been keen to point out that "this is not to tell people what they can and cannot talk about" on Facebook and Twitter, but instead to stop people getting in trouble for posting risky tweets of Facebook status updates.

Citing recent high-profile cases, Grieve said it is important that the government act now, given the widespread use and reach of these tools.

Grieve said, "Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean that individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post. This is an exciting prospect, but it can pose certain challenges to the criminal justice system.

"In days gone by, it was only the mainstream media that had the opportunity to bring information relating to a court case to such a large group of people that it could put a court case at risk. That is no longer the case, and is why I have decided to publish the advisories that I have previously only issued to the media.

"This is not about telling people what they can or cannot talk about on social media; quite the opposite in fact, it's designed to help facilitate commentary in a lawful way. I hope that by making this information available to the public at large, we can help stop people from inadvertently breaking the law, and make sure that cases are tried on the evidence, not what people have found online.

"This change also brings more openness to Government's dealings with the media so that both sides can be accountable to the public for what they do and say." µ


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