Social Media in UK Law
Re A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet Use: Best Interests)
The first question on which I am asked to rule is whether, in undertaking a capacity assessment, internet and social media use should form a sub-set of a person's ability to make a decision about either ‘contact’ or ‘care’.
It seems to me that there are particular and unique characteristics of social media networking and internet use which distinguish it from other forms of contact and care; as I described above (see ), in the online environment there is significant scope for harassment, bullying, exposure to harmful content, sexual grooming, exploitation (in its many forms), encouragement of self-harm, access to dangerous individuals and/or information – all of which may not be so readily apparent if contact was in person.
The next question which arises is what is the ‘relevant information’ under section 3(1)(a) MCA 2005 on which the issue should be assessed? Although counsel in this case prepared an ‘agreed’ formula, I have had the benefit of wider argument on the issue in the two cases.
Stocker v Stocker
The fact that this was a Facebook post is critical. The advent of the 21st century has brought with it a new class of reader: the social media user. The judge tasked with deciding how a Facebook post or a tweet on Twitter would be interpreted by a social media user must keep in mind the way in which such postings and tweets are made and read.
Zahir Monir v Steve Wood
It is very important when assessing the meaning of a Tweet not to be over-analytical. Largely, the meaning that an ordinary reasonable reader will receive from a Tweet is likely to be more impressionistic than, say, from a newspaper article which, simply in terms of the amount of time that it takes to read, allows for at least some element of reflection and consideration. The essential message that is being conveyed by a Tweet is likely to be absorbed quickly by the reader.
B (by her litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) v A Local Authority
On the one hand, there is a recognition of the right of every individual to dignity and self-determination and, on the other hand, there is a need to protect individuals and safeguard their interests where their individual qualities or situation place them in a particularly vulnerable situation: comp.
Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd
Reputation is an integral and important part of the dignity of the individual. It also forms the basis of many decisions in a democratic society which are fundamental to its well-being: whom to employ or work for, whom to promote, whom to do business with or to vote for. When this happens, society as well as the individual is the loser. It is in the public interest that the reputation of public figures should not be debased falsely.
- Data Protection Act 2018
- The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure, Listed Buildings and Environmental Impact Assessment) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020
- The Welsh Language Standards (No. 7) Regulations 2018
- The Traffic Orders Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020
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