Oh more people are getting arrested for their terrible, terrible, terrible awful electronic communications than ever before, according to a Freedom of Information request made to the Metropolitan police. As The Register reports, under the Communications Act Section 127, 518 arrests were made last year over "indecent/obscene/menacing messages/matter" made online last year, up from 319 in 2014; 199 were arrested for sending false messages that caused annoyance or anxiety. Actually I'll just show you a table, there's a whole table:
So yeah essentially: you know when that guy got arrested for his Robin Hood Airport tweet that was clearly a joke? Well last year 857 people absolutely did not learn that lesson and ended up in a police van for their bad tweets (and WhatsApp messages, and Instagram DMs, and whatever). What a wild and crazy world we live in. What a wild and crazy world.
HOW YOU WOULD EXPLAIN THIS NEWS STORY TO YOUR MUM: AN INTERLUDE
"Mum, you know you can be arrested for being bad at Twitter now?"
"It's a social network. But you can be arre—"
"Oh, I don't do that."
"You do Facebook. You keep doing updates on Facebook in the voice of the cat. You love Facebook."
"I just do Facebook for the games."
"Back to the story: so peopl—"
"Why don't people go outside anymore? We used to go outside."
"People still go outside, mum. Twitter literally doesn't stop a single person from going outside."
"No, it's all silly."
"You have derailed this conversation. You have derailed this conversation like you always do."
"Which one is Twitter, again? I think Yvonne's daughter is on it. Do you remember Yvonne's daughter?"
"I just feel like you and I are drifting ever further apart with each passing day."
"She went to Edinburgh. You remember?"
"It's like I'm talking to a ghost of a love that isn't there anymore."
"It's back, son and/or daughter. It's back and it's spread to my bones."
So on one side you've got this sort of murky and unsettling feeling that the police have broader license to quite literally police people's speech now, with this, and that getting arrested for posting on social media is modern and absurd, a flimsy thing to be arrested for, the start of Nineteen Eighty-Four style thought policing; but then on the other hand people are really bad at Twitter, and they use it consistently to harass people, and seeing as Twitter itself is arguably doing brass fuck all about it then we may as well involve the police. The fear is that people will use the fact that the police can be called over social media to be flippant with it, calling the 5–0 every time someone disagrees with them or doesn't click 'Like' on their selfie, but then that's sort of the fear with every crime, isn't it? I can call the police and tell them you did all those murders, and they'll have to talk to you about it. I can call the police and tell them your tweets are criminally bad. There is literally nothing that can stop me from being a dickhead every second of every day.
Though when stuff like this happens I always like to imagine some nerd sheepishly explaining to his bunkmate why he is in prison, and I smile. "Oh you did those murders, did you, that was you?" he's saying, trembling slightly, his voice an impression of detached calm. "Yeah. Cool. I tweeted Timmy Mallett and called him a 'raving dipshit', so. Similar. Similar crimes." And then he gets assaulted and shanked to death, bleeding out, his kidneys just mush now, dying – as we all do – terribly alone, on a cold concrete prison floor, that deep blood, the dark blood, the bad blood, the blood you don't want to see, swimming around him, pooling slowly around his head, and he croaks out, one final exhale: "I wish… I didn't do… bad tweets… onliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine—"
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