December 4, 2014Published by: Drew Benvie

New UK laws unveiled to criminalise social media trolling


New social media law guidelines have been set out by Scotland's The Crown Office, unveiled today, in the effort to protect internet users from trolling.

The new clampdown effectively means it is now illegal to say on social media what it would be illegal to say in the street. The Crown Office has said there will be a "robust" response in the future to social media hate crime, stalking or 'credible threats of violence'.

Trolling behaviour has become a serious and broad issue in 2014, with celebrities, politicians and news organisations all having been affected in high profile cases. Social networks have been building up their own measures, such as Twitter's new higher-profile settings for reporting abusive behaviour, which it launched only this week.

The new government guidelines in full state that social media communications should be considered for prosecution if they:

  • Specifically target an individual or group which are considered to be hate crime, domestic abuse, or stalking
  • Constitute credible threats of violence to the person, damage to property or to incite public disorder
  • May amount to a breach of a court order or contravene legislation making it a criminal offence to release or publish information relating to proceedings
  • Do not fall into the above categories but are nonetheless considered to be grossly offensive, indecent or obscene or involve the communication of false information about an individual or group which results in adverse consequences

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