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Man, 19, cuffed after burning Remembrance poppy pic is Facebooked

Mass roundup of 4chan users next? #poppycock

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A 19-year-old man from Aylesham, near Canterbury in Kent, was arrested last night after a picture of a burning poppy was reportedly posted on Facebook.

The county's cops collared the teenager on suspicion of a committing an offence under the Malicious Communications Act.

"Officers were contacted at around 4pm yesterday, Sunday, 11 November 2012 and alerted to the picture, which was reportedly accompanied by an offensive comment," Kent Police said in a brief statement on the arrest.

It is unclear whether the suspect had photographed burning the poppy - a memorial symbol to fallen British Commonwealth soldiers - or if he had simply found the image online and then copied it onto a Facebook page.

Kent Police - which like many other forces across the UK - operates its own Twitter account, and used the social network to defend the arrest when asked if it was a waste of resources. Officers tweeted: "When we receive a complaint we have a duty to investigate."

Many have questioned the cuffing, labelling it as ludicrous and hash-tagging it on Twitter as "poppycock".

Meanwhile, the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer is drawing up guidelines for prosecutors in dealing with cases of trolling on social media. He has also implied that Twitter, Facebook and similar websites could face regulations to tackle offensive material online before it reaches the courts.

He has sought advice from academics, media lawyers, police, journalists, sports bodies and bloggers on people posting abusive or otherwise potentially illegal comments on websites, after a number of trolls were handed prison sentences.

Starmer said free speech must be preserved, but believes social networks need to do their bit to help prevent, for example, a sustained campaign of abuse conducted on the web.

"Access to social media is ubiquitous and instantaneous. Banter, jokes and offensive comment are commonplace and often spontaneous. Communications intended for a few may reach millions," he said in September. ®

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