Social media and the law: 6 things you need to know

The world of social media can often seem like the wild west of the internet. Everyone has simple access to an audience and can share anything they wish. In a matter of minutes, a post can go viral, spreading a message or causing damage to a brand’s reputation. While the dos and don’ts of social media are far too extensive to cover in a blog post, in this quick guide, we point you in the direction of some things you should be aware of.

Offensive posts

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot simply post whatever you wish on social media. Many social media platforms have built-in monitoring algorithms to prevent offensive posts. When you sign up to a platform, you are agreeing to abide by their ‘community rules’. If you break these rules, you could have your account suspended and, in some cases, further action might be taken.

Can I be prosecuted for an offensive post?

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has outlined that in order to face charges for a social media post, the post must amount to a credible threat of violence, be a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual or breach a court order.

Can my employer dismiss me over a social media post?

Prosecution is not the only concern. Employees in the UK can face disciplinary action or even be dismissed from their job if they post inappropriate content on social media. Many employers have a social media policy that clearly sets out employees’ expectations on social media. Generally, any comments that damage the brand’s reputation, including comments about customers or the business, could be grounds for dismissal.

Reviews

Reviews can help us decide where we want to go and the businesses we choose to buy from, but leaving a false review could see you end up in court. Negative reviews can be incredibly damaging for businesses, and if the statements in such a review turn out to be false, the business could take legal action against the person who posted the review.

Ads, gifts and sponsorship

Ever noticed some influencer posts that include #AD? Declaring ads is the law, but it applies to more than you might think. If you have received a product, service, meal or trip for free, you must declare it as an ‘AD’ in your social media post – even if you are not an influencer. You can find out more information here.

Sharing private images without consent

It is a criminal offence to share, retweet, forward or otherwise pass on a private sexual photograph or film without consent. The UK Government has created a comprehensive campaign to make the public aware of this offence, and you can find out more information here.

Social Media Copy

As part of Social Media Day on the 30th of June, we share some laws you might not be aware of when sharing on social media.

Unsure of whether you can share something online? Read our quick guide to some things you need to know.

Links:

https://www.asa.org.uk/advice-online/recognising-ads-social-media.html

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/405286/revenge-porn-factsheet.pdf

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