Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Daley Twitter row - another example of social media policing nonsense

Another day, another arrest of someone saying something they shouldn’t on Twitter.

Ever been burgled? had your property damaged, or your credit card copied? You don’t get a police visit for that, instead you are given a crime reference number and told to contact your insurance company.

But this week, the boys in blue were out in force, hammering down doors in the middle of the night to arrest a 17-year-old because he posted a nasty comment on Twitter.

The recipient, Olympic diver and national treasure Tom Daley. The sender, teenager Reece Messer.

And the reason police swooped on this boy’s Bournemouth bedsit at 2.45 in the morning – a conversation between him and Daley on Twitter involving a comment that was deemed offensive.

You couldn’t make it up.

While stories of old ladies being mugged on the street, banks being ram-raided, and people being attacked and killed fill newspaper pages on a daily basis, the police are being called into silly playground spats taking place over the internet.

The conversation, which took place after Daley and his diving partner came fourth in the Olympic diving event on Monday, went like this: 

Messer: “you let your dad down I hope you know that”.

A furious Daley, 18, retweeted the message (duplicated it to all his followers) with the retort: “After giving it my all... You get idiots sending me this”.

The consequence - after a member of the public complained ...  flashing blue lights in the dead of night ... national outrage ... an arrest, and potentially a court appearance and prison sentence.

Police are also trawling through Messer’s Twitter account to see if he has made any other nasty comments.

Meanwhile, on planet Great Britain 2012 - crime rates are soaring, benefits cheats are getting away with it month in month out, dentists are conning the NHS out of millions, and you can take your life in your hands walking the streets after dark.

I cannot believe the country is actually having this ludicrous conversation.

Daley and Messer should have each been given a lollypop and made to sit at opposite ends of the classroom if you ask me.

And that should have been an end to it. Blimey, you should see some of the things people post about me when they take offence at a weather story - I've been called everything under the sun.

The only good thing to come out of  this debacle is the police admitting they are struggling to keep on top of arguments on social media sites.

Apparently, last year officers were dragged into 14,000 petty social media rows on Facebook alone.

Maybe this will be the last straw to get something in the law tweeked to prevent this disgraceful waste of police time being allowed to detract them from catching real criminals.

I think it is time ancient legislation is altered to cope with the age of technology.

Messer was held under the 1988 Malicious Communications Act - brought in to deal with grossly offensive, indecent or false messages.

Others have come a cropper on Twitter and Facebook under legislation including the  Communications Act and the Crime and Disorder Act.

I am calling for a Common Sense Act that would trump all these ridiculous waste-of-time cases.

How about a “The-police-are-too-busy-fighting-crime-to-come-out-and-settle-this-childish-squabble Act”?

Messer’s message wasn’t very nice, especially as Tom Daley’s father passed away not long ago, and he shouldn’t have sent it – no question.

But for goodness sake Britain - GET A GRIP.

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