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Scots 'dangerously lacking awareness of ' legal implications of Twitter and Facebook messages, survey finds

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

November 22, 2011 | 2 min read

The legal implications of posting messages through Twitter and Facebook are ‘dangerously lacking’ in Scotland, YouGov has found.

A study conducted by YouGov on behald of DLA Piper found that 19% of Scotland had read the terms and conditions before using a social media website, while only 10% were aware of their legal rights.

It was also discovered that 48% of Twitter users do not consider whether their tweets breach the law before sending it while 70% said that legal guidelines should be introduced for social media, while 39% also through that the same standards should be held for social media users as are faced by journalists.

John McKinlay, head of DLA Piper's Scottish Intellectual Property and Technology Group, said: "The use of social media in Scotland, and indeed across the globe, has developed dramatically over the last three years.

"The rise of Twitter and the significant increase in use of outlets such as Facebook and LinkedIn have resulted in social media becoming a pervasive and important part of everyday life.

"However, our research indicates that users' awareness of the law relating to social media is still dangerously lacking.

"Recent events such as the celebrity Twitter scandals may have begun to challenge this perception that the online environment is - or indeed should be - free of regulation.

"The legal downsides for unwary bloggers can be significant. Regardless of any uncertainties over the status of online intermediaries, the original author of unlawful material will be considered responsible for their posts. Defamatory comments in social media have led to pay-outs of many thousands of pounds."

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