Why malicious communications could get you more than a loss of followers

Date published: 16 April 2019 08:47
Dated: 16 April 2019 09:40:54

Amidst turbulent political times, officers are warning members of the public to think before they post on social media.

While many are tempted to share their views online, posting grossly offensive, indecent, menacing or threatening content which purposely causes distress and anxiety to the recipient is a crime.

With malicious communications punishable by a fine or even a jail sentence, officers are urging members of the public to consider the consequences of what they post.

Examples of malicious communications include:

  • Threats to hurt or kill, or posts which incite violence
  • Discrimination of any kind, including racism and sexism
  • False information
  • Obscene images, videos or text
  • Cyberbullying

An offence of malicious communications occurs as soon as the communication is sent, and does not even have to be received by the intended person to be considered an offence.

ACC Tim Forber at South Yorkshire Police said: “Social media, when used for positive purposes, is a great way to share opinions, views and beliefs, and connect with a wide audience of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

“However, sometimes sharing strays into a different territory. Some people feel that because they are behind a screen they can get away with posting malicious content, but offences of this type can be punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine.

“We want to urge people to consider their actions online, and think before they post. A seemingly small act online can reap massive consequences - for the victim and perpetrator alike.

“If in doubt, if you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, certainly don’t say it online.”

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