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Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

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Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  Justiceforallkids on Fri 21 Sep - 7:26

Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Director of Public Prosecutions: Online trolls who post one-off offensive comments won't face charges
Court action will only be taken in cases representing a 'sustained campaign of harassment' or direct threat
Follows announcement that troll behind homophobic tweet about diver Tom Daley will escape charges

By Jack Doyle, Home Affairs Correspondent

PUBLISHED: 21:39 GMT, 20 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:41 GMT, 20 September 2012

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Internet trolls who post one-off offensive messages may escape criminal charges, the country’s chief prosecutor announced yesterday.

Keir Starmer said court action would be taken only where there was a ‘sustained campaign of harassment’ or a direct threat, as he stressed the need to protect free speech.

The Director of Public Prosecutions made his comments as he announced that a semi-professional footballer who posted a homophobic tweet about Olympic diver Tom Daley would not face criminal charges.
Twitter target: The semi-professional footballer who posted a homophobic tweet about Olympic diver Tom Daley (pictured) will not face charges

Twitter target: The semi-professional footballer who posted a homophobic tweet about Olympic diver Tom Daley (pictured) will not face charges

He said the comments were not so ‘grossly offensive’ that they should lead to a prosecution.

Daniel Thomas sent the message about Daley, 18, and diving partner Peter Waterfield, 31, after the pair missed out on a medal on July 30.

Thomas, who plays for Welsh side Port Talbot Town, was arrested after the tweet spread around the internet. It falsely suggested that Daley and Waterfield were in a gay relationship and drew a link between homosexuality and HIV.

Under the 2003 Communications Act, it is an offence to send messages online that are grossly offensive.

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The popularity of social networking sites has raised concerns that police will be swamped by similar cases.

Last year officers dealt with 14,000 cases of abuse on Facebook alone. Mr Starmer said new guidelines will be drawn up to deal with such abuse.

He indicated that in future, Twitter trolls could face some other sanction short of criminal prosecution, which should be used only in extreme cases. This could include a police caution or a fixed penalty notice.
Chief prosecutor: Keir Starmer said Twitter trolls could face an alternative sanction short of criminal prosecution

Chief prosecutor: Keir Starmer said Twitter trolls could face an alternative sanction short of criminal prosecution

He also suggested a greater role for social networking sites in moderating comments and cracking down on users who post deeply offensive messages.

He said: ‘Social media is a new and emerging phenomenon, raising difficult issues of principle, which have to be confronted not only by prosecutors but also by others including the police, the courts and service providers.

‘The fact that offensive remarks may not warrant a full criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean that no action should be taken.’

Mr Starmer accepted Thomas’s tweet was ‘homophobic’ but said it had been a misguided attempt at humour.

The message was also not intended to go beyond his Twitter followers, who were mainly friends and family. And he said the message was quickly taken down and the footballer had apologised.

Prosecutors contacted the two divers and both said they did not want a prosecution.

Mr Starmer said: ‘This was, in essence, a one-off offensive Twitter message, intended for family and friends, which made its way into the public domain.

‘It was not intended to reach Mr Daley or Mr Waterfield, it was not part of a campaign, it was not intended to incite others and Mr Thomas removed it reasonably swiftly and has expressed remorse.

‘Before reaching a final decision in this case, Mr Daley and Mr Waterfield were consulted by the CPS and both indicated that they did not think this case needed a prosecution.’

On the same day Thomas posted his message, Daley was also the subject of trolling by a 17-year-old boy who posted abusive and threatening messages on Twitter.

Teenager Reece Messer, from Weymouth, Dorset, was arrested after he tweeted: ‘You let your dad down. I hope you know that.’

Daley’s father, Rob, died of a brain tumour last year.

Daley, who went on to win bronze in the individual 10m diving competition, retweeted the message to his followers on the site with the comment: ‘After giving it my all . . . you get idiots sending me this.’

Messer also threatened to ‘drown’ the diver but apologised when his messages provoked a storm of outrage.

He was later given a police caution for harassment.

Chief Constable Andy Trotter, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the new guidance would help police to focus on the most serious online abuse.

Justiceforallkids
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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  Guest on Fri 21 Sep - 8:18

Not necessarily a Crime ..................... Context is everything.

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  margaret on Fri 21 Sep - 9:22

I think if you haven't got anything nice to say you should keep your mouth shut, however, l'm glad common sense has prevailed - one off insults are outrageous but not a campaign of harrassment.

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  Justiceforallkids on Fri 21 Sep - 9:36

margaret wrote:I think if you haven't got anything nice to say you should keep your mouth shut, however, l'm glad common sense has prevailed - one off insults are outrageous but not a campaign of harrassment.
yeah its all in the context IE the twitte abuse r i i got from the pros was NOT a one off IE muratfan etc so legally i could get them charged if i wanted too but i did the mature thing and walked away

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  AnnaEsse on Fri 21 Sep - 11:13

Justiceforallkids wrote:
margaret wrote:I think if you haven't got anything nice to say you should keep your mouth shut, however, l'm glad common sense has prevailed - one off insults are outrageous but not a campaign of harrassment.
yeah its all in the context IE the twitte abuse r i i got from the pros was NOT a one off IE muratfan etc so legally i could get them charged if i wanted too but i did the mature thing and walked away

I had that nutter who followed me from 3As to the John Hirst forum. He/she/it even wasted energy on setting up a blog saying that I had been suspended from work on full pay for posting nude photos of myself on the internet! I had never worked for the organisation it said had suspended me! I don't know why such people expend so much energy on this type of useless activity. Seems to me that most people have better things to do with their time and energy.

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  Guest on Fri 21 Sep - 11:37

Do you have a Link to the pictures?

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  AnnaEsse on Fri 21 Sep - 11:43

The End Is Nigh wrote:Do you have a Link to the pictures?



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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  Justiceforallkids on Fri 21 Sep - 11:46

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2206360/Why-NOT-crime-post-offensive-message-Twitter-DPP-backs-free-speech-clears-Tom-Daley-troll.html



oh and heres the picture






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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  Not Born Yesterday on Fri 21 Sep - 15:32

I wish that all the trolls we've encountered along the way were as cute as that one!

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  marxman on Fri 21 Sep - 16:35

Just out of interest, I had a reason some
years ago to stop a certain individual from
constantly texting me abusive and weird
messages. It went on for months several
per day/night. I was curious to know what,
or how many texts constitute abuse and
harrassment from a legal perspective. I was
informed that more than 'two' unwanted texts
ever is enough to bring charges. I texted
the pest accordingly of my inquiry result and
the texting stopped.
I thought that two was very little to indicate
abuse, but obviously the law seeks to nip it
in the bud early on I think.

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  cherry1 on Sat 22 Sep - 19:13

On twitter those who believe the mccanns and are defending them are sending a lot more
than two abusive text messages to anyone who doesnt go along with the fairy tale, they are abusive
and also accusing people of being people who they are clearly not. I would call them harrassing as well.

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

Post  marxman on Sat 22 Sep - 22:04

cherry1 wrote:On twitter those who believe the mccanns and are defending them are sending a lot more
than two abusive text messages to anyone who doesnt go along with the fairy tale, they are abusive
and also accusing people of being people who they are clearly not. I would call them harrassing as well.

Hi Cherry1. I should have stated that I was
talking about mobile phone texts which is a
lot more personal than online, which is largely
anonymous.But you are right still harrassment.

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Re: Why it's NOT a crime to post an offensive message on Twitter: DPP backs free speech and clears Tom Daley 'troll'

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