December 2, 2014

Social media spying – a step too far?

This post was written by: Amarjit Atwal

Privacy, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spying, Rights, Law

Social media has come under fire in recent days after the revelation that the perpetrators of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby could have been prevented from carrying out their atrocious crime, merely if their social media activity had been more closely monitored.

Facebook allows users to report any offensive content on the site, and claims to take all reports very seriously. The social media giant claims to have deleted various profiles created by one of the murderers of Lee Rigby as they had been flagged up as promoting terrorism. Questions are now being raised as to whom undertakes this form of monitoring and how often it is undertaken, seeing as Facebook alone now has a total of over 1.2 billion users worldwide.

However, it is clear that a balance needs to be found between not monitoring suspicious activity closely enough, and monitoring other forms of private information that is exchanged between social media users. Earlier this year Edward Snowden claimed that governments were undertaking mass surveillance of citizens through their online activity, which they labelled as ‘external communications’.

It remains to be seen just how far online monitoring, or ‘spying’ as some may call it, can be taken. It is vital however, that the correct balance is found in order to promote the underlying aim: to make citizens feel safe.

Amarjit Atwal, Trainee Solicitor