Capital Investigates: New Legal Advice on Social Media Comments

4 December 2013, 08:46

The government's top legal adviser is going to post on Facebook and Twitter what you CAN'T say when talking about court cases, to make sure trials are fair.

Celebs have been forced to apologise and some people have even been jailed for comments they've made about court cases online, so now the government's taking action.

It's top legal advisor is going to start putting guidelines on Facebook and Twitter about what you CAN'T say on social media:

Attorney General Dominic Grieve:

'If I don't provide the advice and somebody Tweets and the result is a trial collapses, the danger for them is that they will be proceeded against for contempt of court and could end up in prison.

'So, it's very much in their interest to understand how they can comment, properly, on a case.'

Up until now, legal advice on trials has only been available to journalists.

Capital Investigation

This, as Capital told you in November that a fifth of students in the East Midlands would like classes on the legalities of social media.

We gave a thousand students in Nottingham, Leicester and Derby a list of legally unsound tweets and 94% said they'd happily post one or more of them; which could get them into trouble with the law.

The made-up tweets included naming a rape victim, saying a star was guilty of a crime and claiming a celeb had faked the cover of their latest fitness DVD. 

Legally, the consequences can range from a police warning to finding yourself in front of a judge in contempt of court.

Hard To Monitor

Amanda Ball is an expert in media law for Nottingham Trent University:

'I think it's something that is potentially a serious problem in media law.

'We've got millions of people who are essentially their own journalists, who are published in the same way but of course have had no training, so don't really know the dos and don'ts'

DCI Tracey Lewis from Derbyshire Police has told Capital that monitoring Twitter is difficult:

'There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of tweets that are posted and sent between individuals every single day and there's no way police can monitor every one of those.

'What we will do is take every complaint of misuse of Twitter seriously'

College Changes Policy

As a result of the Capital investigation one East Midlands college has already changed the way they teach students about social media. 

Damien Wright, Senior Marketing Officer for Loughborough College, told Capital: 

''As a result of the survey that Capital FM conducted the college has started to integrate teaching and learning into its curriculum that involves the legal aspect of it, so students have a better understanding of the things that might put them at risk'’

Hear what the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had to say about our research here: 

Nick Clegg On Twitter

In the terms and conditions for Twitter it states that: 

 ''You are responsible for your use of the Services, for any Content you post to the Services, and for any consequences thereof.''

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