BBC & ITV interview Hamlins partner on Facebook and privacy

Social media law: BBC and ITV interview Hamlins’ partner on the legal implications of posting on Facebook.

Christopher Hutchings has been interviewed today by the BBC and subsequently ITV as a leading expert on privacy and social media law. He was asked about the legal position arising from the setting up of sites on Facebook on which students at a number of UK Universities posted accounts of their recent sexual conquests. Christopher explained that, contrary to many reports and speculation, such comments were unlikely to be considered defamatory, or if so, they would most likely be protected by ‘honest comment’.

However, he advised that the information which had been posted, which was of a very personal nature, would be regarded by the courts as private. Members of the public who had such personal information about them published on social media would have a complaint for invasion of their privacy.

Christopher commented that Facebook was launched in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. They are immensely effective ways of transmitting information – whether true or false – to thousands of people almost instantaneously. This made these new forms of media extremely powerful, handing to everyone the ability to comment on issues of interest to them but, at the same time, giving the ability for defamatory or private information to be widely published across the internet.

Mainstream media is subject to strict principles of responsible journalism. Social media users, however, were not always acting in a responsible manner. He concluded that the legal system here was flexible and was able to keep up with developments in social media and online publication, although it will continue to require ‘test cases’ to be brought so as to set the limitations of what is and is not acceptable.

If you have any concerns regarding protection of privacy or would like to discuss any of the issues raised in the interview please contact Chris Hutchings directly on 020 73556104 or click here to email.