IN response to interim guidelines issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales, regarding offensive messages communicated via social media, Gary Ennis, managing director of NSDesign, says:
“My big concern with these guidelines is that they are intended for prosecutors to deal with offensive messages after they’ve been posted. What about the notion of prevention being better than cure?
“The majority of people who post these types of messages on Twitter are not bad people. They just don’t realise what they’re doing. They wouldn’t dream of standing in the middle of George Square and shouting their message through a megaphone, but that is essentially what they’re doing when they post it on Twitter.
“The document issued today includes comments from Victim Support which highlights the damage some of these messages do. We should be aiming to eliminate them altogether rather than concentrating entirely on how we decide who to prosecute. Look at the way schools carry out anti-bullying education. It’s not all after the event.
“So as well as guidelines for prosecutors, I would like to see guidelines for social media end users. These could come perhaps from the platforms themselves eg Twitter and Facebook working in partnership with the authorities, schools and charities, but I also think socially aware employers have a role since many of the end users are in employment and what they do online could have a serious impact on themselves and the people they work for.
“I also hope the consultation isn’t entirely dominated by lawyers. I would encourage schools, charities the Federation of Small Businesses and the users of social media to read today’s document and get involved. And although this consultation doesn’t apply directly to Scotland people need to be aware that messages sent from Scotland through social media are often 100 per cent public and can certainly be read in other parts of the UK.”
For further information, contact Gary Ennis on 0141 585 6390 or Colin Kelly on 07758 211 585.
Gary Ennis is available for interview by calling 0141 585 6390.