A picture of a businessman in handcuffs standing over white background

Social media is to be more rigorously policed as offences of trolling, abuse, sexting and doxing are all targeted in ambitious new legal guidelines. Online offenders are now liable for criminal charges.

These new guidelines come after a report found that one in four teenagers suffered abuse online because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or transgender identity.

A punishable offence outlined in the new guidelines is the notion of trolling. Specifically, internet trolls who create and use derogatory hashtags and push for retweets of a grossly offensive message to humiliate the victim. This also includes posting degrading or sinister photo shopped images of the victim online.

Other examples of outlawed cyber offences set out in the new guidelines and which could result in prosecution include the following:

  1. Virtual Mobbing – Inciting people to harass others online;
  2. Doxing – Publishing an individual’s home address, work address or bank details on the internet;
  3. Baiting – Branding someone online as sexually promiscuous.

These new guidelines aim to help the police identify online offences more easily and determine whether to prosecute against someone for their conduct on social media.

In regards to cases of sexting that involve underage children, the new guidelines explain that these shall not be pursued for prosecution if the images are shared consensually between two children of a similar age in a relationship. However, if such cases involved “exploitation, grooming or bullying” it may lead to prosecuting those responsible.

The internet seems to have moved on from the age when online trolls could remain anonymous and without consequences. These new guidelines are meant to be a way of prosecuting the trolls in the same way as if they had committed the offence offline.

If you are a victim of any of the offences mentioned in this article, Griffin Law are well placed to provide you with prompt, commercially astute and cost-effective advice. Contact us at justice@griffin.law or on 01732 525923 or visit our dedicated bullying & harassment page for further information.

Article by Rico Dexiades, Solicitor, Griffin Law