Canadians should think twice before expressing their rage through commenting on social networks such as Facebook because aside from hurt feelings, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) will hold you criminally responsible.
An Alberta based individual is scheduled to appear in court today after he allegedly posted defamatory comments on Facebook. The police haven’t released what the comments were however the RCMP said if the Canadian resident is found guilty of “defamatory libel”, the maximum penalty is five years in prison.
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The Drumheller resident has been in a RCMP lead investigation for the last 2 months and despite our opinion on the matter, apparently saying something nasty about anyone publicly on Facebook isn’t a civil matter — it’s a criminal offense.
As Mike Black of the RCMP explained, cases that involve computers require a great deal of police resources including search warrants. And, in this situation, the RCMP also had to work with Facebook to retrieve the comments.
In the past, individuals being investigated for defamatory comments usually were restricted to newspapers and radio, according to the RCMP.
“With the advent of social websites like Facebook, there are people who are writing things that are derogatory or defamatory against other people. A person is responsible for what they write on there,” said Drumheller RCMP Staff Sergeant Arthur Hopkins.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of police getting involved in “insulting remarks” on the world’s largest social network. Back in 2009, it was reported that a 18 year old Indonesian teenager would likely be charged after making rude comments on Facebook towards another teen. And in October of this year, a Nevada lawyer sued Facebook and two Facebook users for allegedly posting mean and defamatory comments on his Facebook wall.
Some believe these type of charges are a major hit for freedom of expression but in this case, it’s hard to form an opinion without actually reading the comments. What are your thoughts, where do we draw the line? When is it appropriate to just shrug if off?