Facebook arguments using up police time

DISAGREEMENTS: New Brighton Police are seeing an increase in people reporting arguments and disagreements which are happening on social media.

People are increasingly going to the police to report arguments they are having online.

But New Brighton Sergeant Jim Currie says the police is not often the best place to go.

He said there had been an increase in complaints involving Facebook arguments in the last month.

He is calling for people to deal with the matters differently.

“The best way they can deal with it is to block the person and keep themselves safe by talking to Netsafe,” said Sergeant Currie.

Netsafe is a New Zealand independent and not-for-profit online safety organisation.

“It’s about people who were once friends having fallouts, and then people are saying things on social media about each other and they don’t like what they are saying, so they are complaining to police about it.”

“A lot of these aren’t really police matters and they are tying up resources which could be used elsewhere . . . basically, we are telling people we don’t always have time to investigate these things and that people need to look after themselves on social media,” he said.

People are reporting the incidences through the crime reporting line, phoning the police or coming into the station.

Sergeant Currie said while there are some “grey areas” around police jurisdiction and the internet, if there are threats to cause serious harm or the belief the person is capable of causing harm, then they would be involved.

However, if a disagreement happens, police have little power to get involved, due to it being on social media.

He said the majority of problems are around public Facebook pages and groups, rather than private messaging.

Netsafe provides information and solutions for online bullying and abuse, staying safe online, avoiding scams, business security and advice for parents and young people