WESTMINSTER, United Kingdom - Police Scotland have warned Twitter users they "may receive a visit from us this weekend" if they post comments that do not comply its guidelines. The guidelines asked that tweets be "kind," "necessary" and not include anything "hurtful."
The threat came from the official Twitter account of the Glasgow police division. It read: "Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend. Use the internet safely."
Users were then told that before writing Tweets they would consider a five criteria that together spell THINK. They are "T - is it true? H - is it hurtful? I - is it illegal? N - is it necessary? K is it kind?"
Police across the United Kingdom are prohibited from arresting members of the public in matters of slander or insult. Under strict rules officers should be liable for arrest themselves if they use their powers to enforce elements of the new guidelines.
However, police regulators are weak and rarely act to curtail attacks on free speech. As a result there is little to prevent Police Scotland rounding up those who break the rules it has laid down.
This is not the first time Police Scotland has threatened social media users. In 2014 it investigated the social commenter Katie Hopkins for making a joke about Ebola.
In the face of allegations that it was bullying Hopkins the service Tweeted: "Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media & any offensive comments will be investigated."
Please be aware that we will continue to monitor comments on social media & any offensive comments will be investigated.— Police Scotland (@policescotland) December 30, 2014
Sam Hooper, from the Conservatives for Liberty group said: "Let’s call a spade a spade: this is tyranny. When an enforcement arm of the state can post jocular messages on social media warning citizens to be on their best, blandest and most inoffensive behavior on pain of arrest, we do not live in a free society any more."
Police Scotland was created in 2013 by the left-wing Scottish National Party government, abolishing forces previously independent of each other. The creation of a national service has led to allegations that the Scottish government now exercises political control over policing.