“#MeToo”: Five letters that have been tweeted millions of times in the past month, and demonstrate the enormous power of social media and how it can bring about change for the good. The feeling of solidarity is a cathartic experience for many who have been the victim of sexual abuse, harassment or other forms of coercive behaviour. Beyond this, the reach of the hashtag is already challenging outdated social values and societal norms.
In 2016, 82% of adults in the UK used the internet on a daily basis compared with just 35% in 2006. Smartphones and mobile devices are the most popular tools for adults to access the internet with 71% accessing through smartphones. Using the internet for social networking on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram has continued to grow rapidly over the last decade with 63% of adults using some form of social media every single day in 2016. In November 2016, Samsung produced a study which found that the average person will spend three years of their lives updating their social media accounts and Facebook’s latest statistics confirmed that they have 1.28 billion daily users.
Defamation proceedings have been issued in the High Court against former UKIP leader Nigel Farage after he accused the charity Hope not Hate of being ‘violent and undemocratic’. The allegation was made on 20 December 2016 on LBC radio’s breakfast show.
The food blogger, journalist and left-wing political activist Jack Monroe has been awarded £24,000 in damages by the High Court following two tweets sent by the MailOnline (and former Sun)columnist Katie Hopkins in May 2015.
Brett Wilson partner Iain Wilson has been interviewed by BBC London News and provided expert comment on the Twitter spat between Piers Morgan and JK Rowling, and the potential legal ramifications of tweeting.
Brett Wilson LLP partner Iain Wilson has been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drive Time show. Mr Wilson was asked to take part in the show to provide an expert’s view on the law relating to offensive and threatening tweets.
Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, and Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper have both called for a review of the law governing online harassment, stalking and abuse to prevent inconsistent enforcement and to encourage those affected to report the crime.
On 29 October 2015 former footballer Paul Gascoigne pleaded guilty to harassment of his former partner, Amanda Thomas, contrary to section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Mr Gascoigne sent abusive messages and threats through a series of tweets, phone calls and text messages alongside being verbally aggressive at her place of work.