Writing on someone’s wall just got a whole lot more literal for 30 social networking, victim-taunting U.K. inmates. The government, working with Facebook, has pulled their pages after several high-profile cases involving jailbirds taunting their captors, accusers, or victims.
“When someone is convicted of a crime he loses his civil liberty though sentencing. We say he should lose his cyber-liberty as well,” Gary Trowsdale of Families United, a group of murder victims’ relatives told the AP. It’s prompted some to question whether the government should be trawling private social networking sites and deciding who should stay and go.
British prisoners, like U.S. prisoners, are banned from using social networking sites and banned from the Internet, but some still access the Web via smuggled-in mobile phones. (Here in the U.S., we don’t even let judges friend lawyers.) But the U.K. has had more than its share of embarrassing Facebook foul-ups in the last few months.
The media recently picked up on attempts by Colin Gunn to run his mob empire from the clink. Last month, Gunn posted an update that said, “I will be home one day and I can’t wait to look into certain people’s eyes and see the fear of me being there.” Comma and use and “to-be” verb crimes notwithstanding, it was easily one of the scariest status updates in the history of the social networking site from a guy doing 35 years for conspiracy to murder a couple in 2004.
Then there was Jade Braithwaite, one of three men jailed for stabbing to death London teenager Ben Kinsella. His updates, including claims that he was “down but not out,” apparently troubled his surviving family members — his younger sister and mom.
After Thursday’s page-yank, Facebook spokesperson Sophy Silver (not just her screen name) told the AP: “The World Wide Web can be a wild and unruly place. Facebook tries to put some rules and protocols on top of the unruly Web.”