Tweeting – 5 Legal Offences to Avoid



There have recently been a number of high profile cases on liability for the sending of inappropriate tweets in the UK and the USA.

As tweeting becomes more and more the norm for many businesses it is important to consider the legal consequences of staff sending inappropriate tweets. Before allowing, permitting or encouraging staff to start tweeting on your behalf or with your brand you should consider creating a tweeting policy. This should set out guidelines on what is, and what is not permitted. It should also state whether any approval needs to be obtained before tweets are sent. Staff should be made aware of this policy and agree to comply with it.

Below is a brief summary of 5 possible offences that you should specifically cover in your tweeting policy.

Misrepresentation

Tweets containing false information that might induce another person to act on it.

Harassment

Tweeting words that cause ‘alarm’ or ‘distress’.

Malicious Tweets

Being “reckless” with the truth or sending false information in tweets for the purpose of damaging another’s commercial interests.

Defamatory Comments

Tweeting information that damages a person’s reputation unless you can prove that the information is a truthful, honest opinion.

Menacing Tweets

Tweeting content that is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing.

Penalties for Tweeting Offences

If a court in the UK finds you liable for any of the above offences you could be:

  • fined;
  • imprisoned for up to 2 years;
  • liable to pay damages for losses suffered;
  • liable to pay compensation for causing distress; 
  • sued for libel and face an order for damages and costs.

It is therefore important that you consider whether there is a business need to protect yourself and your business from such potential “tweeting” claims. 

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