This follows the announcement from the Attorney General’s office on Monday which threatened contempt of court proceedings against those individuals who originally posted or subequently retweeted the photos.
The photos uploaded were claimed to be of Venables, one of James Bulger’s killers, who is now 30 years of age. The photos appeared on 14 February 2013. It has not been confirmed whether or not the photos were actually of Venables, but Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, has issued a stark warning to anyone who purports to break a 2001 order protecting Venables’ and Thomson’s identities.
The debate reached the House of Commons home affairs select committee yesterday at which Keith Vaz, the chair of the committee, queried why the photos had not been removed from Twitter.
A spokesperson for Twitter stated: “We work with law enforcement here in the UK. We have established points of contact with law enforcement in the UK where they communicate with us about content, they bring content to our attention that is illegal, and appropriate steps are taken by the company. You may read into those words what you wish in context of the current [issue].”
She went on to say, “It’s important that people increasingly understand that online is no different to offline: what is illegal offline is illegal online.”
There has already been discussion about the role of social media platform providers in monitoring online content. In a recent case, Google came close to being labelled a publisher rather than a mere ‘facilitator’ which would bring with it a host of responsibilities and increase Google’s exposure to defamation claims. The fact that the Police are taking direct action against the providers of these online ‘notice boards’ suggests that the government is now willing to be proactive in tackling serious misuse of social media.