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back to article Man charged over alleged April Jones Facebook trolling

Lancashire police arrested a man on Saturday for allegedly offensive remarks he posted on Facebook about missing five-year-old April Jones from Machynlleth, Wales. Officers said they had arrested and later charged Matthew Wood, 20, of Eaves Lane, Chorley, "with sending by means of a public electronic communications network a …

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Anyone know what he said?

See title.

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Re: Anyone know what he said?

NVM - found it. Sick but this comment sums it up :

"Yes, it's offensive and no, it's not particularly funny, but the police are starting to take the piss a little now with these charges."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anyone know what he said?

Whats the difference between Mar kBridger and Santa Claus....

You can probably guess the ending, or look on Slashdot.

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Re: Anyone know what he said?

Slashdot has in the 1st post the offending joke

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/10/08/0033233/uk-man-arrested-for-offensive-joke-posted-on-facebook

And later down in the comments, more detail that the joke was posted to a dedicated group on facebook, so it wasn't just joking amongst known friends, but an attempt to upset. This may/may not influence your opinion on what he did.

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Meh

No different from a Frankie Boyle joke

Tasteless absolutely, but would Frankie be charged for it?

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Pint

Re: No different from a Frankie Boyle joke

"...a Frankie Boyle joke..."

Frankie Boyle's a comedian???

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Re: Anyone know what he said?

I'm no expert but why not just charge the perp with a traditional offence like "threatening and abusive behaviour" or along the lines of "behaving in a way calculated to cause distress and alarm", or similar.

Rather than think up new offences with overly-specific and slightly woolly definitions like the one in the article. Could it be that the legal establishment has a vested interest in keeping the statute book woolly and enormous ? Can they in fact bill much more time arguing over an uncertain law than applying a clear one ?

Enormous statute + closed shop = 800 per hour

Is that how it works ? Surely not !

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Re: No different from a Frankie Boyle joke

Apparently there is a difference when you charge someone a £35 entrance fee.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anyone know what he said?

The German statute book is much shorter, clearer and better written, and German lawyers are paid a lot less. Perhaps this is the real reason all those barristers in the Conservative Party oppose closer European integration.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anyone know what he said?

> Rather than think up new offences with overly-specific and slightly woolly definitions like the one in the article.

The Communications Act 2003 replaces the Telecommunications Act 1984 which in turn replaced The Telegraph Act 1863, The Telegraph Act 1868, The Telegraph Act 1878, The Post Office Act 1884, etc etc

The Communications Act bring many of the offences up to date and got rid of many other offences.

The act itself doesn't just cover criminal offences, it covers everything from OFCOM to S4C (Okay, so S4C should be criminalised).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No different from a Frankie Boyle joke

@Crisp

Yes, it's called choice. If you don't like Frankie Boyle's type of humour, you don't pays yer money and you don't go and listen to him.

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Trollface

Anyone know what was actually said? None of the news reports mention it. It kind of makes it harder to judge what's acceptable and not when you have no history to go on...

(Note: I do not condone offensive messages particularly when a young child is involved and in tragic circumstances)

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Anonymous Coward

Basically it was a sick joke. There are posts above with links to it.

Had he posted the joke to his group of friends or just twitted it then I don't think there would be any cause for complaint.

He did not do this.

He posted it to a support group for the missing child and his only intention in doing this was to cause upset and distress. He should therefore be prosecuted.

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agreed. If you go watching a frankie boyle sketch then you know you will get jokes like this. You wouldnt simply walk into the village and announce this type of joke to the assembled people helping out so why would you think you can get away with posting it in a support group?

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Gold badge

Well if he did say it in the village, his punishment might be a smack in the chops and to be told to bugger off. Which is probably better for both him and society than locking him up, or wasting time and effort going to court.

Could we not just have an internet policing squad who can track down particularly offensive trolls, go round to their Mum's basements, and just kick them in the nuts? Surely much cheaper all round.

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im in 2 minds about this.

On one hand its facebook. Its not real. Its just a social network. I could write that i enjoy dressing up in my wifes underpants, and eating cacti. But that dosent mean its true. Or relevent. Or anything

On the other hand, people seem to think facebook is real. And that posts actually mean something, and have substance. Which i find quite strange.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: im in 2 minds about this.

I have a few 'friends' on there that seem to think that they own 'their' page. Asin if I was to post something on there they didn't like, they would act asthough I had defaced their property, the same as graffiti on their house/car whatever.

I find that very strange..... Just because your names there doesn't mean it is somehow your property.

Ps... People acting this way seem to be the low IQ chavs with nothing better to do.

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Re: im in 2 minds about this.

Its not so much what was said, but where they said it.

Its the difference between telling a Madeleine McCann joke to your peers down the pub one night or telling the same joke to Maddie's parents face to face.

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Re: im in 2 minds about this.

"I have a few 'friends' on there that seem to think that they own 'their' page. Asin if I was to post something on there they didn't like, they would act asthough I had defaced their property, the same as graffiti on their house/car whatever."

That's basic internet protocol/manners. A persons webspace should be treated like an extension of their home whereby the owner sets the rules. So just like someone's living room, if you walk in a start talking crap they have every right to evict your ass.

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The attitude toward prosecuting trolls should be the same as the attitude used when deciding whether to take them seriously: we have got more important shit to do. Wind-up merchants are not worthy targets for prosecution, and if you start arresting people for being dickheads, you might well have to start with the Met...

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tell that to the hundreds of people trying to get help on a support forum with trolls laughing in their faces knowing they have no comeback at all. The guy who posted it was 20, not 13 he should have known better.

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OK, I will. What, does this forum have no creator, owner or moderator? Last time I checked, FB pages can be moderated. Then why not do it?

One FB page I'm subscribed to had the admin account hacked, and for several days my news feed filled up with porn. Did I get offended and demand apologies? Nope. Laughed my ass off.

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So how come

this guy gets arrested but the "Hang Mark Bridger" FB page is allowed ?

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Linux

Re: So how come

The likelihood is that you are the only one to complain about the "Hang Mark Bridger" page

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Re: So how come

As far as I'm concerned he's innocent unless (not until, that implies he will be found guilty). There's nothing to be gained by publishing his name (apart from selling newspapers) before a decision has been made. If he's not found guilty his life is still ruined, if he's found guilty he will be well and truly fucked, and rightfully so.

Remember Jo Yeats' landlord, his name was dragged through the mud, and then the police turned around and said "he's no longer a suspect". The papers didn't use quite so many column inches to publish that.

We live in a country where people are happy to attack the home of a paediatrician, so anonymity should be a must.

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Linux

Re: So how come

"As far as I'm concerned he's innocent [until found guilty]" -- I quite agree. Although it is quite normal to name the accused in many cases.

What I find interesting is that the Police seem "quite positive" that they have the evidence they need to prosecute Mark. Considering that this poor girls body has not been found (to the public's knowledge) and the Police have the evidence "they require"; intrigues me. It seems that the only information they have given is the name of the man arrested. Beyond that, everything is speculation.

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Linux

Re: So how come

"We live in a country where people are happy to attack the home of a paediatrician, so anonymity should be a must." -- Anonymity or education of course, you have to be somewhat of an idiot to attack a paediatrician instead of a paedophile.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So how come

"As far as I'm concerned he's innocent unless (not until, that implies he will be found guilty)...."

No, it doesn't. Learn what words actually mean before commenting about what they mean.

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Re: So how come

Your point would be stronger if this was the actual case

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So how come

@Miek - It's unlikely that the Police are going to lay out all their evidence for the public to scrutinise at the point of charging. However in order to get a prosecution they have to show their evidence to the CPS, who decide if a prosecution is reasonably likely to succeed and/or if it is in the public interest. The CPS seem to think it's jumped both of those hurdles, so it's highly likely that they've got something (undisclosed) which is pretty water tight, what with the lack of a body.

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Re: So how come

"Anonymity or education of course, you have to be somewhat of an idiot to attack a paediatrician instead of a paedophile."

No - I think it's still Anonymity unless you're saying it's acceptable that people go round attacking offenders based on the crimes they've committed.

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Re: So how come

I thought it strange they should release the man's name before charging him. Someone who is suspected of a crime may not actually end up being charged with it. However, once he was charged I think it's right and proper they should release his name.

I also don't believe the press release names for altruistic reasons. There have been far too many times when some local weirdo / eccentric has found themselves under a media spotlight simply for the misfortune of merely living in the vicinity of the victim. Look how many suspects Sky trotted out for Madelaine McCann for example or that Bristol case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So how come

Innocent until proven guilty.

Lets not forget the story of Chris Jefferies who was investigated in the Joanna Yeates murder enquiry. He had all sorts of stories painting him out to be eccentric and weird only for someone else to be found guilty.

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Facepalm

Published on the Find April Facebook page.

I read elsewhere that the main aspect of this case is that the guy posted the offending joke on the Find April Facebook page, not on his own page.

As such it turned from being a distasteful pub joke into something far worse.

If he had just posted it on his own page, or said it in a pub, it wouldn't have been a problem, the guy's peers could have cut him down, or laughed in a "that's so wrong" way, like people do with such jokes.

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Re: Published on the Find April Facebook page.

According to the comments here... http://www.reddit.com/r/unitedkingdom/comments/113ow3/man_arrested_for_posting_a_joke_about_april_on/ (which by the way for anyone looking to be outraged contains the joke).

The guy posted it to his own wall, someone screen capped it and reposted it to a find April group.

If you ask me these kind of distasteful jokes have always made their way around after something like this, it used to just be by SMS. The person who turned it from just a joke to posting it on a group should be the one arrested, I could have found similar stuff on Sickipedia, but you'd be pretty callous to screencap it and post it on a group.

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Re: Published on the Find April Facebook page.

Details seem to be a bit sketchy.

Some are saying he posted it on their page himself.

Others say he posted on his own page and someone sent a screen shot.

Anyone know the truth?

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FAIL

Re: Published on the Find April Facebook page.

"The guy posted it to his own wall, someone screen capped it and reposted it to a find April group."

*If* this is true then nothing more than a slap on the wrist should happen to this person as the post was to his own facebook page and then somebody else did a screen capture and posted it to the April group.

This vigilante behaviour has to be stopped

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Re: Published on the Find April Facebook page.

Yes, each side of the story seems to be hearsay, but I was only seeing the side saying he posted it himself to the group which seems callus, if true I guess he deserves a slap, if however it was a joke reposted to set the lynch mob (Creating groups called Hang badger even before he was charged) on him then I feel sorry for the guy, as he said no worse than I saw after Jackson's accusations came out or Madeline went missing. Don't remember anyone that text me the bad taste jokes getting arrested.

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Coat

US Laws coming to the UK...

"Watch Your Comments: Arizona Law Could Punish Trolling With 25 Years"

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/04/03/watch-your-comments-arizona-law-could-punish-trolling-with-25-years/

Ill get my coat...going on holiday where these laws don't exist!

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FAIL

The really sick joke here...

... is the police, arresting somebody for telling a sick joke on Facebook.

Seriously, if they can find the resources to arrest somebody for the "crime" of telling a sick joke, either they have far too many resources or completely screwed priorities - and either way, that law needs to be deleted outright.

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Re: The really sick joke here...

Tyranny, coming in April.

“Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

― John Stuart Mill

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The really sick joke here...

@Piux97: Did you really just repeat what was getting someone prosecuted and generally accepted as a pretty repugnant comment.

Not acceptable.

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Re: The really sick joke here...

@AC....Which comment are you reading??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The really sick joke here...

@Greg:

The first line of pixl97's post is a reworking of the "punchline" to the "joke" which landed a man in prison.

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FAIL

Freedom of speach means the good, the bad and the evil.

Bl oody Plod enforcing the Nanny state, again.

Far better, and cheaper, to request posts in extreme bad taste be discretely removed by the social web site and the Username deleted.

The results are the same but the free publicity for the poster is removed.

Of course this particular dummy should have used his brain and created a new Username at an InterNet cafe and he would have a Sunday at home.

This very much like the blow the airport up incident, he chose the wrong target (Heathrow was better) and all that legal claptrap that followed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Freedom of speach means the good, the bad and the evil.

It would be interesting to see you maintain your stand if a similar joke were directed at your child, say, a couple of days after her murder.

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Re: Freedom of speach means the good, the bad and the evil.

It would be interesting to see you maintain your stand if a similar joke were directed at your child, say, a couple of days after her murder.

Bullshit emotive argument that should never, ever be used when making laws. The absolute worst person to ask about any preventative laws is the parent of the deceased.

You should have no right to freedom from offence, not least because any attempt to legislate what is and isn't offensive is almost guaranteed to be either unobjective, or abused.

If we arrest people for offending others, then what about Draw Muhammad Day? People seem pretty offended by that, but most of us in the UK are OK with offending those people. Odd that, isn't it?

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Re: Freedom of speach means the good, the bad and the evil.

Indeed, hence the maxim "hard cases make bad law." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_cases_make_bad_law

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Freedom of speach means the good, the bad and the evil.

There is no absolute freedom of speech within the UK. We have the right to free speech with the exception of threatening, abusive or insulting speech, or behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace. There are many other exceptions as well, covering incitement, terrorism, and court cases, among others.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Draw Muhammad Day

I'm not offended by that in the slightest.

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