Continuous rise in social-network crime begs for steps to be taken
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/31/2012 -- There have been a large influx in reports of internet-based crime when it comes to Facebook and Twitter. Such crimes include posting exceedingly abusive messages, grooming and complaints of stalkers, which have risen eight-fold within the last four years.
In 2008, there were a total of 556 complains to the police. According to the latest study, collected from 29 police forces, that number has grown to 4,908 offenses reported to the two social media sites.
The figures show 654 persons were charged for crimes related to social networking in 2011.
Police said that there has been a wide array of offenses on such platforms. Harassment and menacing messages were among the most common. The Greater Manchester Police charged 115 people alone.
Civil liberties campaigners have stated that the statistics demonstrates how police had 'lost all proportion' in dealing with social media complaints. The claim follows the Lancashire Police receiving reports of six threats of murder and many more sexual offenses. The same groups have underlined the poor handling of complaints by police.
Nick Pickles, who directs civil liberties campaign Big Brother Watch, stated: “These figures show just how badly some police forces had lost all proportion when dealing with social media.”
He continued: “So many arrests was clearly undermining freedom of speech and while the new guidance should reduce the problem, hundreds of people now have criminal records for the rest of their lives when it is far from clear they should do.”
“The law around speech crimes is still in need of a total overhaul as the legislation that led to some of the more absurd prosecutions remains in place.”
Chief Constable Andy Trotter stated that forces have to do a better job prioritizing which supposed crimes are genuine instead of attempting to curb freedom of expression. Such overstepping by authorities came in the form of Paul Chambers' conviction after joking on Twitter regarding blowing up Robin Hood Airport.
Chambers had tweeted: “Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together otherwise I am blowing the airport sky high!!” when it was closed because of snow.
He was convicted on May 2010 for sending of menacing communication after the airport saw the tweet several days later.
Trotter stated that social media poses new challenges to police.
“It is a new world for all and we could end up in a situation where each constabulary needs a dedicated Twitter squad. In my opinion, that would not be a good use of resources in difficult financial times.”
Trotter continued, stating, “We need to accept that people have the right to communicate, even to communicate in an obnoxious or disagreeable way, and there is no desire on the part of the police to get involved in that judgment.”
“But equally, there are many offenses involving social media such as harassment or genuine threats of violence which cause real harm. It is that higher end of offending which forces need to concentrate on.”
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