It used to be that when it came to the whole internet, not just social media, it was a free for all where anything could be said and discussed, with almost limitless impunity.
But the recent celebrity court actions have proved, that lawyers will now come looking for those who post material on say Facebook, Twitter, or any of the hundreds of thousands of blogs, which is wrong. So, if you want to stay outside of the courtroom, it’s best to think before you write.
And this gradual reigning of internet content back inside the law is an inevitable consequence of the world wide web’s growing maturity and dominance as a social platform. What’s more, wherever you might stand personally – the web should be free from restriction and almost like a wild west, or that it should be harnessed by the laws of the land, like everything else – you can see how things are changing. And it’s an inevitable process – as more people rely on the internet, it has to develop its own legal identity and structure.
Print and broadcast writers are bound by a strict convention as to what they can and cannot say. And even though now often flout the law in terms of what they can say about suspects in a legal case, they are very much wary of libel and slander laws. It is the law of the land that you cannot libel a person through the accepted forms of communication, or slander their reputation.
It is inevitable that as far as social media writers are concerned, these laws are now being applied to them.