A 17 year old girl has been arrested by authorities in the Costal city of Swansea in Wales, after she allegedly posted comments that were according to authorities, “grossly offensive” on Facebook about a slain 15 year old boy.
James Lock, a 15 year old student was found dead near the Olchfa School on Thursday. A memorial was set up, the school was closed, and a Facebook group was set up in his memory.
Unfortunately, it appears that bullying has gone from being regulated to the physical and virtual realms to following some into the spiritual realm as well. The teenaged girl who has been charged under Section 127 under the U.K.’s Communication Act and hasn’t been identified, allegedly posted offensive comments about the dead teen and his mysterious death on Facebook, in an extreme case of cyber bullying.
Free speech laws in the United Kingdom are far less protective of offensive speech than the United States. This is particularly true about electronic communications and Section 127 of the Communication Act. Its most high profile run in with social media was when Paul Chambers faced charges and was found guilty of violating the act after posting a satirical tweet about terrorism, but that case was overturned on appeal.
It has also been used to prosecute Stan Collymore, a soccer player who posted racially insensitive tweets and Neil Swinburne, a 29-year old man who posted comments on Facebook that seemed to praise a man accused of murdering two police officers.
At press time, James Lock’s death is being treated as “mysterious” but not “suspicious” and the police are on longer looking for suspects in the online trolling case.
Do you think hateful speech in social media should be afforded the protection of free speech?
[Photo Credit: derekskey]