Good news for all the drunks in Great Britain: Your alcoholism may get you out of trouble for the offensive things you post to Twitter and Facebook after hours.
At least that's the message coming from the desk of British director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer, who, in an effort to cut down on the number of people facing prosecution over offensive social media posts, has announced a set of interim guidelines for prosecutors that "make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence … and other communications sent by social media, e.g. those that are grossly offensive."
The distinction alleviates concerns drunkards may have if they wake up the next morning with a headache and a whole handful of guilt stemming from an indecent comment they posted to Twitter before nodding off.
Under the interim guidelines, "a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression."
So basically, if you wake up reeling from regret, delete the post and you should be scot-free.
Starmer stressed that the interim guidelines are in place as much to protect the expression of "unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humor, even if distasteful to some," as they are to protect those who are being subject to targeted attacked.
Moving forward, the public prosecutions office will place a more heavy emphasis on bringing justice to those who carry out a concerted effort to threaten or harass.
GB victim support head Javed Khan welcomed the new rules, telling the BBC that "sustained and vindictive targeting on social media can leave long lasting emotional and psychological scars, so we warmly welcome clarification on how prosecutors will deal with online threats or harassment.
"The distinction between the communications which constitute a credible threat and those which may merely cause offense is sorely needed," Khan added.
Effective immediately, Starmer's office plans to keep the guidelines in place until March 13, 2013, at which point it will determine a more permanent set of standards for the public.
Until then, drink up and tweet like mad. Just remember to delete whatever you wrote the next morning.
Photo via MeSoRandy/Twitter