As sites like Twitter and Facebook attract more users, the risk of encountering bullies, racists, and various other hate-mongers is increasing by the day. And while authorities in the UK have allotted more funding to police these sites for troublemakers, they're asking for users to essentially police themselves when it comes to battling individuals who are attempting to ruin the experience for everyone else.
Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, head of the e-crimes division of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) explained, "There is no Facebook squad or Twitter squad. We are not actively going out to catch people who have made inappropriate comments. We're not there to hunt people down. But where allegations are made we can and do investigate."
Patrolling social networking sites can prove extremely difficult. When a person posts something than another user doesn't like, the offending comment can be removed at the moment's notice, making it difficult for authorities to properly investigate the claim. However, there have been instances where the people have been incarcerated for sharing their rude and inappropriate opinions with the world. Racist tweeter Liam Stacey, for example, spent 56 days in jail for spreading his hate around the Intrawebs.
ACPO's Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie feels that educating users, young people in particular, is the key to getting a handle on these problems. "If you come across somebody behaving irresponsibly the onus is on you to do something about that if you care about that space. In my experience of Twitter and Facebook there are a lot of very responsible people who will be the eyes and ears and report stuff."
Although there are detectives who patrol these sites on a regular basis, there is only so much that law enforcement officials can accomplish.