Regularly, Nouse must deal with complex legal issues regarding what is published, in an attempt to provide the best reporting we possibly can.
With the rapid acceptance of Facebook and other social networking sites by more and more students in a vast array of countries, the law – and media law in particular – is struggling to keep up. Whilst many grey areas remain as courts continue to push for more accurate legislation, perhaps the only thing that is certain at the moment is that the same laws which apply to Nouse, also apply to you with regards to the internet.
When you post on Facebook, you are personally responsible for what you publish. Although the familiarity of Facebook and other social networking sites may well lull students into a false sense of security, it is crucial that they understood how any information released into the public domain may be treated seriously as a criminal offence.
In generations past, scribbling some offensive and bleak humour about a target a million miles away was highly unlikely to get you into trouble with the law, and was often just seen by those it was intended for. However, we are living in a different age. The internet gives almost anyone who happens to see it access to your work, whether you meant for it to or not. By this metric, the government considers anything you write to be your published work, and it therefore becomes your own legal liability. Deliberately writing on controvertial and sensitive topics is always going to attract attention, and people must be prepared to accept the consequences of their actions if they do so.
While this is a particularly extreme case, there is a lesson to be learned. When you are online, think carefully about what you are publishing, and who you are broadcasting too. Despite privacy settings, in reality it is not difficult for employers, or others you do not know, seeing anything you have written, and potentially taking it out of context. Students should consider very carefully the image they portray of themselves online and be aware that pleading naïevity is not an acceptable defence.