It wasn’t an invasion of privacy for the Daily Star to identify a 17-year-old who threatened on Facebook to kill Muslims. The teenager, whose real name and photo were published by the Daily Star, posted photos of himself on Facebook with guns and standing in front of Nazi flags.
Comments made by the teenager included:
- “I’m f**king pissed off, I need some trigger time and blow some s**t up”
- “I’m sick of seeing these damn musrats everywhere I go this country should be called Englandistan”
- “When the Muzrats attack I’m ready to fix bayonets and slot the bastards”
The article was published shortly after the Parkland, Florida school shooting. IPSO agreed there was “exceptional public interest” in reporting on the teenager’s posts, even though the article prompted the college where the teenage was set to take a course to drop him as a student.
The teenager’s guardian complained to the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the Daily Star‘s Feb. 2018 story, “Teen gun nut: I will kill Muslims.” The woman, who wasn’t named in the IPSO ruling, claimed the article was inaccurate, invaded the boy’s privacy and violated guidelines for reporting on children. The woman claimed to the Daily Star that the teenager “isn’t really going to” shoot anyone.
The guardian thought the newspaper shouldn’t publish from the teenager’s Facebook posts since his posts were set so only his 595 friends could see them, according to the IPSO ruling. The Daily Star disagreed, explaining a source contacted the newspaper’s freelance journalist to alert them to the posts. “The news editor, duty lawyer and editor all gave consideration to the public interest before publication and concluded that the exposure of the teenager’s threats to commit criminal acts outweighed any privacy or protection that he may have been entitled to,” IPSO reported.
iMediaEthics has written to the Daily Star for its response to the ruling.
The Daily Star also argued it was in the public interest since the gun massacre at the high school in Parkland, Florida had taken place just a week earlier, and in that case, the accused shooter had made similar threatening social media posts. IPSO detailed the Daily Star‘s rationale:
“In this case, thought was given to whether the public interest could be served without identifying the teenager, but by identifying him it allowed for the possibility that a member of the public could come forward with further important information. It considered that it was especially important for the public to know what the teenager’s real name was and what he looked like, because he was a member of a gun club and had access to weapons. It said that the article had brought to light what can only be interpreted as very serious threats to carry out armed attacks: there was a public interest in reporting threats being made to the lives of others, by a person with access to weapons.”