Crown Office issues new social media guidelines

The Crown Office has sought to clarify the boundary between legality and criminality on social media by issuing a fresh set of guidelines setting out what types of messages break the law.

This will seek to permit the use of satirical or mildly offensive and provocative content whilst adopting a robust stance against hate crime, stalking and credible threats of violence.

Attempting to sum up the advice Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said a simple test would be applied: “If it would be illegal to say it on the street, it is illegal to say it online.”

Providing further detail to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland about what was acceptable Mulholland said: "It doesn't include offensive comment because we recognise that, in a democratic society, with use of social media you can have offensive comment which wouldn't be criminal but it's really the category above the high bar grossly offensive which has a significant effect on the recipient of the comment.

"We've all seen on the media reports of what you described, internet trolls, where this kind of comment, grossly offensive comment, is sent out to directly wound and has quite a significant effect."

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