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Attorney General: Teach kids Twitter dangers at school
TEENAGERS should be taught at school about the legal dangers of what they write on websites like Twitter, the Attorney General has told the Free Press.
Dominic Grieve, also Marlow's MP, backed the idea of teaching the pitfalls of social media to pupils to prevent them landing in trouble with the law.
It comes after increasing numbers of court cases due to Twitter and Facebook users falling foul of defamation or contempt laws.
Mr Grieve has previously stressed that people must remember their words are being published and therefore they are subject to the same legal concerns as journalists must consider.
He told the Free Press exclusively: "Young people start using social media usually at secondary school so you could argue that something could be shoved into the secondary school timetable somewhere. All you need is a teacher who is inspirational and sensible and you can easily do it and say 'what are the rules about using social media?'. I think that's quite an interesting idea.
"I have no objection if schoolteachers want to point out social media is a form of publication, I think that's probably quite sensible.
"And people should remember that is a form of publication, moreover, over which the public has no control once it's gone out, you can lose control of it very quickly.
"I want the message to get home that social media is there to communicate but it doesn't give people immunity from the law of the land.
"There are some perfectly basic rules that newspapers have to follow and it applies to people on social media as well."
Asked if twitter or social media sites should carry a warning or overview of the rules of defamation and contempt of court, he said: "I suppose it might be possible for social media to publicise the risks of using their service and pointing out people have responsibility for what they post."
One of the highest profile defamation cases in recent times surrounded Sally Bercow, who was found guilty of libel for a Twitter posting about Lord McAlpine during the Newsnight fiasco.
Mr Grieve said: "Perhaps it will provide a cautionary tale of the consequences of comments on social media. As I said you're making a speech potentially to millions of people."
He re-emphasised that Twitter users could even fall foul of foreign laws: "Yes you might go abroad and suddenly find yourself picked up when you turn up at the airport, so be careful."
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