Profanity in Social Media – Can We Speak Our Minds?

Rage SwearMy Father shared an interesting article on the efficacy and relevance of bloggers, tweeters and the like adding a “These views are strictly my own an do not represent the views of my employer” caveat to their blogs and profiles.

The article goes on to discuss the possible risks to those tweeters who do use their personal social media profiles to communicate on behalf of their employer.

Personally, I’ve never felt the need to cover myself in that manner. My social media activity is very clearly my own and anything I post on behalf of my employer is done so under my employer’s social media identity.

Any correlation between what I say under my personal profile and my employer is in the eye of the correlator – so to speak – but the article my Father shared is definitely food for thought.

Times are changing and it may be that my naive, monochrome view of the matter could land me in trouble in future.

What is more worrying to me though is not the risk of damaging my career but the risk of ending up in court!

We probably all recall the furore surrounding the prosecution of Paul Chambers that arose from his “joke” tweet about blowing up Robin Hood Airport.

This article in the Telegraph reminds us of the case and how the poet John Betjeman could have been prosecuted under the same logic, had he tweeted:

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough

But the risk of prosecution doesn’t end there; earlier this year, Bexley activist Olly Cromwell, was prosecuted for swearing on Twitter.

You can read about that here and here.

It looks like the Communications Act 2003, the legal act under whose auspices these prosecutions have been made, has come under scrutiny.  It clearly does not account for recent changes in media and communication – or does it?

Some people may see little difference to publishing profanity on television and writing a swear word in a 140 character microblog.

As I’ve mentioned before when I’ve discussed profanity, I abhor censorship.  No matter how hateful, or wrong something may seem to some people, I strongly believe in people’s right to speak freely over any medium.

From fictional literature to personal views, we should not be prevented from airing our thoughts.

But my personal views don’t change the fact that, under current legislation we could be prosecuted for simply voicing a point of view in jest or using an “adult” word.


4 thoughts on “Profanity in Social Media – Can We Speak Our Minds?

  1. Part of me really wanted to just come on here and swear like a trooper, but what good would that do? Like you I abhor censorship, but my thoughts on profanity may differ. I see no more harm in the word fuck as I do flip. When annoyed, and used to vent said annoyance, they both mean the same thing to me, just one of them is acceptable, but is anyone labouring under the delusion that they carry the same weight?

    • That’s a good question Shorty and I think my initial reaction to this would be to do the same 🙂

      When annoyed I tend to automatically explete a muttered “c*@ts” or “Mother F*%k” but in more polite company the latter gets converted (by training) to “Mother Love” or “Mother Lovers”… my own version of “Muddy Funster” I guess.

      But take “Flip” and “Fuck” – as much as they are just words, the strength of the former when opposed to the latter is so different as to render it almost comical; albeit, as you say, acceptable.

      I suppose it’s a matter of propriety. I labour to not swear in front of children, more out of respect for the parents plans on the upbringing of their children than anything else – I think it’s important to speak to children as adults (although not necessarily in an Adult manner).

      There are also people in the office (and here I have to be careful of falling foul of the source of this post) who dislike profanity so much that they want to see its use made into a disciplinary matter and there are others (of an equal stature in the company) whose response to that suggestion would be a firm “Fuck Off!”

  2. I don’t like social media of any form and I do not use it. It was a solution to a problem that did not exist.

  3. Pingback: Troll Hunting on Twitter « Armaitus on…

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