1st Edition

Social Media, Criminal Law and Legality

By Laura Higson-Bliss Copyright 2025
    260 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Utilising Lon Fuller’s conception of legality, this book argues that current legal provisions often used to control online abuse aided by social media do not conform to the basic principles of legality in the criminal law, in turn, threatening freedom of expression.

    How we regulate inappropriate behaviour online, often referred to as online abuse, particularly online abuse aided by social media, is a contemporary concern for governments across the globe. Tragedies, such as the death of a celebrity following a campaign of online abuse, often hit the headlines, followed by the same echo: ‘there should be a law against this’. Yet, in England and Wales, numerous laws exist to control, prosecute and convict individuals who use the likes of social media to harass, intimidate and abuse others online. So why is the law failing to keep pace with modern technology? This monograph critically examines this fundamental question, from the perspective of legality. Applying criminal law to three growing areas of concern, it covers: (1) racist speech, (2) cyber harassment/stalking and (3) the sending of abusive messages online. It then turns to examine the latest attempts by the UK Government to tackle these issues through the implementation of the Online Safety Act 2023 and France’s, Germany’s, and India’s attempts to regulate social media.

    The book will be of interest to researchers in the field of criminal law and cyber law, as well as online abuse, harassment and discrimination.

    Part One

    1. Introduction

    2. Freedom of Expression: The Online Context

    3. Regulating Social Media: Theoretical Positioning



    Part Two

    4. Online Racism and the Criminal Law

    5. Harassment and Stalking Online

    6. Abusive Communications Online: The Development of Communication Law

    7. The Future of Communication Law



    Part Three

    8. Regulating Online Behaviour in the UK: Beyond the Criminal

    9. International Perspectives on Social Media and the Law

    10. Conclusion



    Laura Higson-Bliss is a Lecturer in Law at Keele University, United Kingdom, joining Keele School of Law in 2021. Her interests, broadly conceived, are in the interaction between social media and the criminal law, legality, freedom of expression and law and new technologies. Laura is an author of several blogs and a regular contributor to wider discussions on social media regulation on the radio and television, both nationally and internationally.