How should the Law respond to the growth of Social Media? Reflect in terms of either Defamation or Privacy.

Since the rise of social media the debate of liability for defamation has arisen time and time again on news feeds and tabloid headlines, from twitter to facebook, the battle between freedom of speech and defamation continues. New Acts have been drawn up under UK Social Media Law and users are urged to know the lines and what counts as crossing them. However laws of the past that have been used as templates for the laws of the present, written in a time when only large institutions and established publications had access to the global stage, are an undoubtedly ridiculous guide lines to have used to structure the laws that regulate virtual world.

Follow me if you will, a writer, lets say for the Times is professional person, it is their responsibility to know of the laws by which their profession is governed, in the same way you would expect a police officer to know the laws they are policing, or a taxi driver to know traffic laws. This is the same for an editor, a C.E.O or a board of directors, although by this point they are likely to have lawyers that advice them, the point remains. It is their professional responsibility to abide by these laws and work within them.

Therefore if a publication, writer or editor is sued for defamation, then it is their own fault for breaching or not knowing the laws that govern their profession.

Now lets take for example a 19-year-old girl that’s just left collage, she foolishly posts a facebook status and winds up in court for defamation. How is this in anyway a reasonable response, she is not a professional person, she isn’t working on behalf of an influential institution, she’s simply a young girl that has done something slightly stupid. However Facebook as a company, the same as Twitter and various other social media sights, are run by professionals and are run to turn over a profit, therefore should carry the same levels of responsibility that say the tabloids would. If they are going to profit from providing the platform for people to communicate, socialise and comment on things that could tarnish people’s reputations, then they should be responsible for regulating what is being said.

The law drastically needs to recognise that these institutions have the sole responsibility to act as the gatekeepers for the content that is shared on there sites, and not to force these institutions to take up this responsibility is incomprehensible.

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