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Status update: This could get you arrested

Status update: This could get you arrested

Under a controversial new law in India, Facebook updates and Tweets can be used as court evidence against individuals.

February 1, 2010 6:16 by

A wild rant on Facebook could get you arrested in India. According to the country’s IT Act, amended recently, Tweets and status messages on social networking sites can be used as electronic evidence in court, reports The Economic Times.

“Messages on a social networking [sites] can be used as electronic evidence under the IT Act,” Pavan Duggal, a lawyer, told the paper. “A printout or screenshot of a Twitter or Facebook post can be used in court proceedings,” he said. “It can be used by a spouse in a divorce case for instance.”

“Internet posts can also amount to defamation,” Vivek Sood, a cyber lawyer told the paper. Some 35 million people in India use social networking sites, according to the report.

The report also quotes a survey by online jobs site CareerBuilder India, which showed that 73 percent of HR managers checked social networking sites to research job candidates, and about 42 percent of employers claimed that they rejected candidates after finding “mischievous content.”

While Kipp appreciates the idea of using social networking sites for wider purposes, being sued for a random rant on a bad day or being rejected from a job because of writing something “mischievous” on your personal space just seems wrong.

Kipp is certainly not advocating defamation or the use of bad language. But we should ideally have the freedom to express ourselves on these sites without the fear of what someone else will think of us. If we have to start censoring what we write on social networking sites, then their very essence is lost.

As it stands, the use of social network sites, often touted as having democratized the propagation of information, may be curtailing our freedom by ways we didn’t expect.

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1 Comment

  1. Anupama V. Chand on February 2, 2010 7:39 am

    Wasn’t it bound to happen, though? No surprises really about social networking having become popular enough today, that the laws are being rewritten to take these musings, rantings, ravings, call them what you will, into account….while once bloggers were considered immune from defamation suits for instance, it has quickly become obvious that there is too much blogging going on, and that blogs influence people’s opinions almost as much if not more, than any newspapers or newsletters. So it stands to reason, that while in the ancient world, newspapers and the printed word were considered liable, today electronic content, blogs and tweets and facebook have taken their place…..whither freedom of privacy and press freedom, you ask? Well, I am sure bloggers would be the first to concur, and I definitely count myself on their list, that being vitriolic and malicious in cyber space should be condemned as much as sending someone an annonymous hate letter or writing nasty things in the day’s newspapers…..this was not the intention of this personal space in the first place!


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