Brilliant new scheme from the Crown Prosecution Service. If you create fake social media identities, you could be charged. They won’t charge you if you’re a rapist, but they will if you upset somebody.

There are three categories here that if you fall into you’ll get your collar felt.

  • Category 1, when online activity results in a credible threat to an individual
  • Category 2, when someone is specifically targeted for harassment, stalking, ‘revenge porn,’ or coercive behaviour to former partners or family members
  • Category 3, when the case results in the breaching of a court order

There’s also a proposal on the table about less serious situations, where for example somebody posts ‘upsetting’ messages or for information that could cause anxiety. The decision to charge would need to be weighed against the need for free speech, including ‘banter’ and ‘posting of unpopular opinions.’

Let’s take it from the top. The authorities don’t seem to give a rat’s arse if your house gets turned over, but if somebody is nasty to you online that is really important.

A false identity is just that. It’s false. How do they track you down? I’ve got at least four email addresses that are not in my name, all used to set up false Facebook accounts. I’m not alone in this. Facebook itself reckons there may be as many as 10,000,000 false accounts out there. That’s a lot of fibbing, isn’t it? Plus if you use a public access network, and have never registered your device, there’s not a lot to go on is there?

Category 1, credible threat to the victim. That’s a whole can of worms. Credible? How will they define that?

Category 2 makes sense, but it’s hard to see how it differs substantively from Category 1.

Category 3, breaching a court order. Well, that’s already a crime, so superfluous to requirements.

The lesser crime of upsetting messages or false information that could cause anxiety. Bloody hell, any chemtrail enthusiast could come into the firing line on that one. And antivaxxers. And any of the other nutters out there.

‘Banter’ and the ‘posting of unpopular opinions.’ Bugger me, having an unpopular opinion might justify you being looked at. I’d be in deep trouble with that one on my real FB account, let alone the fake ones.

By the way, if you ever get a stiffly worded comment on FB apparently from one Eric Potts, do feel free to shop me to the coppers.