Racist tweets land UK student jail time
In one of the first cases of its kind, a Swansea University student has been jailed for 56 days after posting racists and hateful tweets about the Bolton F.C. midfielder Fabrice Muamba.
21-year-old Liam Stacey claimed he was drunk when he posted offensive tweets about the footballer on the same day he suffered a much-publicised heart attack.
Mr Stacey then tried to “distance himself” from the tweets by claiming his account had been hacked, the court was told, after Twitter users challenged his comments and became the victim of Stacey’s “vile and abhorrent” abuse.
He later tried to delete his page but was arrested the following day at his student house in Swansea.
“In my view, there is no alternative to an immediate prison sentence,” Magistrates’ Court District Judge John Charles told Mr Stacey. “It was not the football world who was praying for [Muamba]…. everybody was praying for his life.”
The case highlights the dangers facing social media users who wrongly believe they are granted full anonymity online. And while Mr Stacey ultimately fell foul of the law due to the racist nature of his tweets, there is an emerging danger of libel action facing millions of Twitter users each and every day.
According to a survey by a law firm, 68% of Twitter users in the UK have “little or no awareness of their legal responsibilities”.
As a result, the actions of Mr Stacey and similar Twitter users have lead to surge in Twitter “hashtag” #thinkbeforeyoutweet in recent days.