12 June 2012 | Team Tamar

How will new ‘Trolling’ laws affect brands online?

New legislation being proposed by the government could see an end to the practice of Internet trolling, it is being reported today.

Under the planned legal changes, sites like Facebook would be forced to reveal the IP address of anybody accused of abuse, libel or defamation – provided a legal case has been made.

In a “you scratch my back” move, the change will also work in favour of the websites in question – by complying with the request they will free themselves from any risk of being caught up in the ensuing case.

Under the current system, sites like Facebook risk being included in legal cases such as libel – in legal terms, every “hit” on an offending page can count as another count of abuse – so the current solution is for sites to remove the content as soon as they are notified. Whilst this might sound like a good solution, in practice it results in a lot of mis-reported content being deleted, just so the sites can err on the side of caution.

The subject of Internet trolling has been a hot topic in the UK for most of the year – just this week a new video by comedienne Isabel Fay bought the subject to the fore once more. You can watch the video below – though the language used is probably a little NSFW:

So what will the new law mean for you as a site owner/brand? Well for starters it means any form of “UGC” (user-generated content) on your site will now almost-certainly fall under this new remit – so you need to be prepared to manage any requests if they come.

As a brand using social media channels such as Facebook, your social media presences should be covered by the terms of the platform itself – but it’s still worth familiarising yourself with the new legislation, when it is finalised.

Whilst using a site such as Facebook should protect you from getting caught up in cases such as these, negative situations on Facebook seem to have a habit of spiralling out if control very quickly – so having good community management in place on your social profiles is paramount. After all, even if you’re protected from the might of the law, muck has a nasty habit of sticking to more than just the people throwing it – you only need to look at the way the media report stories of trolling or abuse to see how keen they are to name-check brands or personalities who might have been involved.

As always, our main advice is to ensure you’re fully educated on the law that applies to you, and make sure you know what people are saying – not just about you, but in places that have your name on them!

Team Tamar

  • Bunny Menra

    It is really good to see that there will soon be a law to punish those abusers & trollers. Mrs Brookes, whose efforts have led to passing of this law is still suffering at the hands of abusers http://bit.ly/N2qPjw. Hopefully, this law will prevent such situations in future.

  • http://www.tanyagoodin.com Tanya Goodin

    I have a slight concern that if brands/networks clamp down too hard it’ll discourage legitimate comment and feedback but its definitely a positive move to discourage some of the more unpleasant aspects of internet use.

    • http://twitter.com/henweb Henry Elliss

      *Hopefully* the fact that the platforms (and brands by extension) will be freed-up from being caught up will actually result in less clamp-downs – currently people are removing stuff that is not genuinely defamation, “just to be safe” – so in theory this should result in more openness.

  • Nara

    Few years ago I participated in “Cyber Security” training organized by NATO experts. It was focused on the problem how to regulate illegal actions in the Cyber Space and in fact,many countries do not have any cyber legislation. It’s good to see that soon there will be a law against trolling…time to realize that Virtual World is slowly transforming to Real…

  • asad imam

    I watched a documentary Richard Bacon on BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17399027)
    and was shocked to know the reasons why would somebody get into trolling. A law against it is definitely welcomed. Onus is for sure on social media sites to take strict action against this.

  • http://www.michaelsheehan.com Michael Sheehan

    This law is long overdue but like all such matters the devil is in the detail. Lets hope its not “a hammer to smash walnut”.

  • Simon

    Totally agree with Asad’s comment above. Social media sites should take more responsibility!