Q771: Someone is posting false information about me on Facebook/Twitter/a social networking site. Is this a criminal offence?

Depending on the exact nature of the information and how they have posted it (Have they sent the information to someone else? Have they posted it via their own account? Who has access to the information?), an offence may have been committed.

If the information is indecent, grossly offensive, obscene or threatening/menacing, then an offence relating to 'improper use of a communications network' or 'threatening communications' may have been committed (see Q770 for further information). The offence of 'improper use of a communications network' can also be committed where a person sends or causes to be sent any message that they know to be false.

If you believe that any of the above offences may have been committed, you can report this to Police Scotland by dialling 101. They will be able to confirm whether this is the case, based on the full facts and your individual situation.

If the information posted does not fall under any of the above offences, then you may wish to consider whether the person has committed the civil wrong of defamation (by publishing a false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation). However, this is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, and action would need to be taken through the civil courts. The police do not have any jurisdiction to assist with civil matters. You should seek legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau and/or a solicitor before taking any action regarding this.

Depending on the circumstances and the nature of the information, you may wish to initially make a report to Facebook/Twitter (before contacting the police/Citizens Advice/a solicitor), as these sites have processes in place for such situations, and may be able to simply remove the content and/or close down the person's account.

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