There have been several prominent incidents of internet activity resulting in prosecution in the last few months. The Facebook threat cases of Gregory Campbell and Neil Lennon are particularly relevant to ‘our wee country’, but there are several others, including Facebook/ Twitter activity during the recent English riots. The incidents in question however seem to have opened a new door for what is seen as genuine news sourcing by several journalists. In the last few days alone there are two such examples.
A single Facebook comment on a UUP affiliated page resulted in the Orange Order, UUP and DUP being asked for statements on what was an unobjectionable incident almost lacking in news (I say almost, because if anything it was a very positive story).
But today we have it taken a step further in the Belfast Telegraph and now the BBC. The Tele’s Connla Young managed to isolate three comments on an internet forum and twisted them into a headline claiming (totally incorrectly even from the article content) that a Catholic Rangers player has been threatened!
Where does this sort of sourcing of news end? Where will this method of searching for abuse or threat or offence leave us in terms of internet usage? The truth is any single one of us could trawl the net and use single comments in this same way from forums, blogs and social media to make allegations against ANY organisation or prominent individual. For example, on this very site occasionally commentators become incredibly personal about and abusive towards individual bloggers
How long before the first ‘police investigation’ begins on a blog comment poster?…
Unashamed Ulster Loyalist. Marching band activist and band member for over 25 years. Contributor for the Belfast Newsletter and currently studying History at QUB.