back to article Prosecutors target first 'Facebook harassment' conviction

A Birmingham man is set to be the first in the UK to stand trial for harassment using Facebook. Michael Hurst, 33, of Edgbaston, has pleaded not guilty to harassing ex-girlfriend Sophie Sladden. Appearing before magistrates, he was granted conditional bail to stand trial later in March, The Birmingham Mail reports. He is …


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  1. Steven

    Are they really gone?

    "Hurst and Sladden's Facebook accounts have been deleted from the site."

    Deleted or deactivated? ;)

  2. Anonymous
    Thumb Up


    Well that's one way to get ArseBook to delete your personal information!

  3. Jason Aspinall
    Paris Hilton

    Which account was deleted!?

    Surely if *he* was guilty, only *his* account should've been kiboshed?

    Paris, she definately needs kiboshing...

  4. yet another Matt

    Really Deleted?

    Sounds like the easiest way of getting it deleted

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Why is the Reg reporting this?

    Are we going to get a stream of similar articles, one for each and every social networking site that gets used in the course of a crime? It's a bit like What Car? reporting a bank robbery just because the getaway vehicle was the latest Ford Mondeo.

    The dead vulture because it's clearly been run over by the latest Ford Mondeo

  6. John Young
    Dead Vulture

    Wasn't this 'Facebook harrassment' then?

  7. Ash

    Facebook deletion is easy!

    Tried cancelling a myspace account? THREE seperate windows to select "Cancel account" (each telling you that you won't be able to reactivate it!), before they send you a "confirmation email" in which you have to click a link, which takes you to a page with ANOTHER button to cancel your account!

    They THEN tell you it'll take 48 hours!

  8. Hywel Thomas
    Thumb Up


    No. It's more like Top Gear (had it been around at the time) reporting the first time a car was used as getaway transport (instead of, say, a horse, or a hot air balloon). I can also easily image Top Gear (in the present or near future) reporting the first time a hybrid is used as a getaway vehicle.

  9. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Wasn't this 'Facebook harrassment' then?

    He was in violation of a restraining order, there was no harrassment charge.

  10. Morely Dotes

    Excuse me?

    Web pages are a "pull" medium. thus, there can be no harassment of someone via the Web in which the "victim" is not a willing accomplice, since the victim has to actively *request* the Web page(s) to be pulled to his/her computer for viewing.

    Yet another case of the so-called "justice system" failing to grasp even the simplest elements of modern technology.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Why is there always a mouth-breather who asks 'Why is the Reg reporting this?' Robbing a bank with a Ford Mondeo doesn't set a precedent affecting the interpretation of restraining orders.

    News doesn't have to be about Paris Hilton or Microsoft before you start to take it seriously.

  12. J


    "He is accused of a breach of the Harassment Act 1997 when he used Facebook to contact Sladden on 21 January."

    I even overcame my lazy bastard nature and went to read the original article to look for more details (and found nothing).

    So the guy contacted her ONCE (I'm assuming it was that, since it was 21 Jan.) and that is harassing!? Either there is something we are not being told here or people are going crazy... Both are likely enough scenarios, therefore I don't know what to make of this one.

  13. jcipale
    Paris Hilton

    And this cretin is how old?

    33 going on 13 sounds more apropo.

  14. Andrew Woodvine

    You can block people on Facebook

    Facebook has excellent privacy controls. You can block people so that they cannot find any trace of you on the site. It would have been far easier if she had just blocked him.

  15. Matt Bradley

    @Morely Dotes

    I'm not quite sure what you are trying to say here: are you trying to say that it's ok to stalk / harrass or abuse somebody via the web or email?

    Or are you simply saying that once somebody has been the victim of this kind of thing, they should simply stop using facebook / their email address / the internet?

    Either way: I think you are probably wrong. Although web and email technology are indeed "pull" systems, the fact that the (in this case facebook) account is the property of the victim, makes sufficient grounds for this to be called harassment if you ask me.

    I guess if somebody attacked my house, I could simply not go home. After all, I don't have to go home after work... that is a positive action on my part, so it would be my fault?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A little odd her account was closed, but from Facebook's perspective it probably goes:

    If you have a face book account you accept people are going to contact you.

    There are ways to actively block people, if you don't use them, then you are giving your consent to be contacted.

    If you then later drag this into court, whilst not taking the effort to use said blocking feature you are too much of a liability.

    And I think the account probably belongs to Facebook.

    Not sure if email is really pull - it is actually push technology with a little pull at the end if you are using a remote client. Though the pull, push thing is a bit of a red herring.

    I just lament the fact the net has become so serious, and hark back to the good old days when everything was just a bit of a lark. Can't we just ban the normal people from the net, and reclaim our cyber frontier days :)

  17. Mike

    you'd be suprised

    i used to run a site where someone complained "someone is using your forum to harass me" etc, so i not only pointed out that you can block someone from sending you messages, but i even went and modified both of their accounts settings to block the other one

    a couple of days later threats to sue me for allowing the harassment, so i had a look, both had gone in and changed their account settings to allow messages again - while i was there i also looked at the messages and they were both as bad as each other by the looks of it - so i just banned the pair of them

    my guess is they were having an argument, both as at fault as the other, but one had the great idea of complaining and getting the other one banned from the site... guess he didn't realise the site owner can read any messages sent through the site to see for themselves who needs banning

  18. stuart meadowcroft

    Pull, surely

    you pull a little string, it opens a latch on a trapdoor and piles of steaming dung stream forth from it

    mines the sou'wester... (how do you spell this?)

  19. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    @Morley Dotes

    "Web pages are a "pull" medium. thus, there can be no harassment of someone via the Web in which the "victim" is not a willing accomplice, since the victim has to actively *request* the Web page(s) to be pulled to his/her computer for viewing."

    Surely no different from arguing that you can't harrass by post since the victim has to be a willing accomplice in choosing to open the envelope.

  20. Alf

    This line will be the inevitable defense...

    "I swear, I never poked her in my life!"

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Morely Dotes


    By your reasoning, sending an offensive, threatening letter via Royal Mail is OK, because the recipient had to play an active part in opening it ? I don't think so.

  22. Andy Turner


    "Why is the Reg reporting this?"

    Because it's *their* site and they can put what they want onto it?

  23. DR
    Paris Hilton

    pull push

    by that same logic I can send you hundreds of emails because you have to physically pull them from the server and read them? so you've chosen to accept them.

    critical misunderstanding of everything me thinks?

  24. Rob
    Black Helicopters


    "I can also easily image Top Gear (in the present or near future) reporting the first time a hybrid is used as a getaway vehicle."

    Oooh. It's almost worth robbing a bank in one, just to get that accolade.

    (Black Helicopter, because surely *that's* the best getaway vehicle..)

  25. Paul Smith

    @Morely Dotes

    Yet another case of the so-called "experts" failing to grasp even the simplest elements of justice

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @anon coward "nurr"

    That's exactly my point - this case does *not* set a precedent because there have been previous breaches of restraining orders etc committed by email, website, dating site etc. The *only* distinguishing feature of this case is that Facebook was used. So I repeat my question: will we see the same story with Google replaced for Facebook, then Yahoo, then MSN ad nauseam?

    Smiley face because I'm pleased to see that you agree with "mouth breathers"

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