The Crown Prosecution Service has issued new guidelines for prosecutors in England and Wales informing them that online abuse and hate speech should be treated with equivalence to cases of physical abuse.
Updated guidance describes social media abuse as "equally devastating" to shouted insults across the street amid warnings that the internet and social media offer abusers safe harbours from which to wage vendettas.
Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, told the Guardian: “Whether shouted in their face on the street, daubed on their wall or tweeted into their living room, the impact of hateful abuse on a victim can be equally devastating.”
Advertisers have become increasingly vocal in their efforts to disassociate from sources promoting hate speech and fake news, with Vodafone actively blocking its ads from appearing alongside such content.
Leading tech players including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Microsoft have all signed up to an EU-wide hate speech code in recognition of the seriousness of the issue.