The shocking events in London in the past week have revived middle-of-the-night raids by UK police on people using social networking.
UK media outlets are reporting that eleven people across the UK have been arrested for making racist or anti-religious comments on their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts. The outrageous arrests are against individuals merely suspected by police of breaking laws through use of social media posts.
One alleged offender was charged under the 1988 Malicious Communications Act, whilst two others were held under the Public Order Act. A further individual has been charged under the 2003 Communications Act for improper use of public electronic communications.
According to UK police:
The [two] men were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. Our inquiries into these comments continue.
These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.
People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.
Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.
In the case of the two arrested men, police raided two addresses in Bristol at 3.20am to arrest the two individuals “after they expressed anger at Muslims on Twitter.”
Police have further warned that they are monitoring all social networking sites, and that police “will seek to arrest and prosecute anyone inciting hatred or violence online.”
UK residents now have to be very careful in what they post online, for fear of being raided and arrested at 3am, for mere suspicion of committing an offence.