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Social Media Users Warned About Accusations

Legal concerns for social media users

Legal experts have warned social media users about falsely labelling politicians as paedophiles in the wake of alleged child abusers in Westminster. This comes after the late Conservative peer Lord McAlpine settled legal action against Twitter users for false suggestions that he was a paedophile. Many users are now openly suggesting that various politicians and celebrities are guilty of child abuse.

social media politics
Source: manandvans.com
Theresa May, the home secretary, has announced a full enquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations by public institutions. This has come to the surface following the Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith scandals, and now there are even allegations that there was a high-profile paedophile ring in Westminster involving more than a dozen people. Despite the strong claims, there is yet to be any arrests made, or any charges relating to any offence.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, who is a leading privacy lawyer, said: “The first point to make is that for many years there have been rumours about all kinds of individuals. Some of those will turn out to be false, and some to be true. Lord McAlpine is a very good example of the first and Jimmy Savile is a very good example of the second. But for people to report rumours in the way that some people apparently are doing online is extremely dangerous from a legal point of view.

Tomlinson went on to say: “First of all it could prejudice any prosecutions. Secondly, it could expose them to defamation proceedings. If people are naming politicians as suspected paedophiles, it seems the McAlpine lessons have not been learned.”

He added that child abuse is “obviously an emotional subject where feelings run very high and where the consequences of a false allegation are extremely serious.”

“A false allegation of paedophilia is so serious it could lead to someone having a mental breakdown, becoming the subject of vigilante attacks or even committing suicide,” he stated. “Victims should be going to the police and other people should not be making accusations simply on the basis of rumour.”

social media politics
Source: steveblanchard
Nigel Jones, of JMD Law knows all about online allegations as he brought the first Twitter libel case in 2011, and he said internet users posting allegations that have no foundation in reality are being “rather silly in light of the McAlpine case.”

“Defamation on Facebook, Twitter, whatever social media site contains exactly the same penalties as if it appeared in a newspaper,” he said. “The only difficulty we sometimes get is identifying the actual poster.”

False allegations should of course be condemned, and there is no place for it, but politicians have bred this culture of blame and dishonesty. You only have to observe the way society is run by the powers that be, to come to a conclusion that things need to change. The banking crisis for one, was a topic of concern to the general public, and one where big corporations were being dishonest and deceptive towards the general public.

In the coming months, the disturbing allegations will unravel, and will no doubt be displayed in the news papers day in day out, but also they will be displayed on social media, and this means that information can become blurred (not that it doesn't in the papers). From a legal standpoint, it is best that the general public steer clear from pointing any fingers, or else the centre point of the whole topic could be manipulated, and become focused on the wrong-doings of the general public who use social media.

Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Social Media Users Warned About Accusations Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, July 10, 2014 Rating: 5
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