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As the Olympic Games got under way in London this week a recent problem reared its head once more. Trolling and online behaviour wasn’t an issue during the last Olympics. This time around it very much is. When a popular young British diver is added to the equation, it becomes big news. Perhaps the biggest of the games so far.
There is no doubt that the abuse directed towards Daley was wrong and offensive (the troll in question brought up Daley’s dead father before threatening to drown him). However, what people are debating is what action should be taken against the perpetrator.
With social media still in its infancy stages many people still seem unsure as to what is acceptable behaviour online. This despite the fact that threats and abusive behaviour seem more commonplace here than offline. Authorities, also new to this game, seem unsure how to react too. One problem is how to apply the law evenly. Another is at what point are you infringing on free speech? It’s still very much a grey area. The police in charge of the Tom Daley case even admitted that they needed guidance.
We’re all still finding the ropes. So, it seems a rather archaic notion offers the best advice as to how to deal with these cases – ‘use cop on’. The same principles that apply offline should apply online. For example, freedom of speech doesn’t mean the freedom to make death threats.
For those worried that their rights are being infringed upon in the digital age, they should take solace in this – the authorities do not have the resources or time to go looking through your tweets. However, those who are abusive online would do well to remember that people have been arrested for less.
It’s a brave new world we’re living in.