Staffordshire University course teaches Twitter safety

Staffordshire University is offering short courses on Twitter to help social media users avoid legal pitfalls.

It’s 'Stay Safe on Twitter' course will enable people from celebrities to bloggers and business people who use social media to follow the guidance set out by the Attorney General about commenting during court cases.

The popularity of websites such as Twitter and Facebook has led to a number of people being fined for committing contempt of court offences and libel. The courses, which will run throughout the year, will allow people to learn the basics of media law. The courses, which will be delivered at the university or anywhere required, including online, will be delivered by trained journalists who are experts in media law. They will cover the crucial aspects of contempt of court, juveniles in the news, sexual offences, libel and copyright.

Sarah Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Staffordshire University, said: “Many people see websites like Twitter and Facebook as a place for free speech, but they are subject to the same laws that used to only apply to the mainstream media.

“Peaches Geldof recently apologised for tweeting the names of two women who were part of a court case could not be legally identified and several people were fined last year for naming a woman raped by the footballer Ched Evans. “People using social media need to realise that some of their comments about a trial or somebody on trial could prejudice a case and they could be fined or even imprisoned.
“That is why this course will provide tweeters with the essentials to ensure they are not on the receiving end of a legal writ or a letter from the Attorney General.

“The people who teach it are journalists with many years’ experience and we’re all passionate that media law shouldn’t and mustn’t be the domain of trained reporters – anyone who publishes online needs to know the basics now. “What we teach will be rooted in what we teach our students who go on to be successful, trained reporters as we recognise that so many people would benefit from this sort of training.
“We will be delivering the course at our state-of-the-art newsroom or we can come to the workplaces of people who want to learn how to Stay Safe on Twitter.”

For further information or to book a place on the course, contact the Journalism Department at Staffordshire University at factnews@staffs.ac.uk

Contact Sarah Chapman on 01782 294521 or 07411 944753.