Twitter will train prosecutors in England and Wales to combat online abuse

The Guardian reports that twitter will train prosecutors in England and Wales "to better fight online abuse".

Jenny Hopkins, chief crown prosecutor and the CPS lead on violence against women, told the Guardian that Twitter experts were being brought in to train prosecutors and update their skills and knowledge. “Social media is increasingly being used as a tool against women and I think it is really positive that Twitter is going to be training our lawyers in the months ahead,” Hopkins said.

The CPS is publishing new guidelines on prosecuting new and emerging social media crimes. For the first time, violence against women and girls has been highlighted as an area in which social media is being used by perpetrators. The guidelines are now out to public consultation for six weeks. "The revised guidelines cover cases where offenders set up fake profiles in the names of others, as well as advising prosecutors on the use of social media in new offences, such as revenge pornography and controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship." Pay attention, all ye who make parody accounts.

Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, said the use of multiple fake profiles by individuals on social media could, depending on the context, be a criminal offence.

“Worryingly, we have seen an increase in the use of cyber-enabled crime in cases related to violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse,” Saunders said. “Offenders can mistakenly think that, by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name, their offences are untraceable. Thankfully, this is not the case and an online footprint will be left by the offender.”

Advice has been added to the guidelines about the use of false online profiles and websites with false and damaging information. For example, it may be a criminal offence if a profile is created under the name of the victim with fake information uploaded which, if believed, could damage their reputation and humiliate them. In some cases the information could then be shared in such a way that it appears as though the victim has themselves made the statements This may amount to an offence, such as grossly offensive communication or harassment.

Nick Pickles, Twitter’s head of UK public policy, said to the Drum; "By working with the CPS to give prosecutors an in-depth understanding of Twitter, we hope that the evolution of the legal framework put in place to protect UK citizens better captures the rapid development of digital communications platforms, and where necessary, online as well as offline behaviour."

Twitter has recently installed a "Trust and safety council, partnering with 40 organisations and self-proclaimed 'experts' from 13 regions around the world, which many saw as the opening salvo in the battle between freedom of expression and protecting users from abusive comments.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

Curious, does anyone else feel it's a little odd that a private corporation, to be exact an United States private corporation, is 'training' UK prosecutors?

AlexGarland's picture

Gettin' real 1984 up in here.