Case 4: your Facebook page starts getting some nasty comments
You run a Facebook page for a university society group, publishing news about what the group is doing, links to relevant events, and how-tos.
One week, while you are on holiday, a series of hateful comments appear on the site, all from different accounts.
One is a joke by Member A about Jews which many commenters think is sick.
In response, Member B says that all Muslims should be beaten up on sight;
A further comment by Member C adds “homosexuals” to the list for the same treatment;
And for good measure Member D says “Polacks” should be beaten up too – although you know the commenter personally and think the term was used in a tongue-in-cheek fashion (given the timestamp you suspect she was under the influence).
A few days later Member E messages you directly to tell you about those messages, and ask that two commenters be kicked off the page.
To complicate things further, it isn’t the first time that Member E has asked you to kick people off the page – they have been arguing both privately and publicly on the page that a number of openly gay people are trying to ‘hijack’ the group and openly gay members should not be allowed to join it.
What are the legal issues here – and what tests need to be met for them to be an issue?
The Protection From Harrassment Act 1997 is occasionally used to prevent journalists on reporting on particular individuals. Specifically, any conduct which amounts to harassment of someone can be considered to a criminal act, for which the victim can seek an injunction (followed by arrest if broken) or damages.