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Influence of social networks and the presumption of innocence

The Internet and the different information networks, as well as having brought an incredible technological advance to the world, have been the means of criminal actions that threaten societies in general. This is why several countries have tried to regulate the use and scope of social networks, establishing their own legal frameworks regarding the relationship between the inhabitants and these technological resources. In this regard, this article will explain how social networks and the presumption of innocence are related.

Legal implications of the use of social networks

The idea of regulating the Internet began to gain momentum after a series of world events that concerned society, such as the massification of child pornography, tutorials to create weapons with homemade products, among other types of content. And although it has direct implications with freedom of expression, the use of this type of technology does admit certain limitations.

In this context, we can establish that countries such as France have already passed laws regulating social networks, especially during election periods. The United States has expressed its willingness to reform Article 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act to regulate what is published on social networks. In Australia, there is a system that monitors social networks in order to prevent terrorist propaganda. And countries such as China make use of these regulations to guarantee the data protection of their inhabitants, denying the use of foreign applications.

In a way, they are all based on the prevention and detection of crimes such as terrorism, discrimination, violence, and false information. At the same time they establish legal frameworks for the protection of each user's data.

What is the presumption of innocence, and how does it relate to social networks?

The presumption of innocence is the human right by which every person is considered innocent until proven guilty in criminal proceedings. Therefore, it is an essential element in the protection and the right to defense of the accused, and its application must be guaranteed in order to have access to the same.

This means that it is based on the right to defense, as well as on the trial prior to the conviction. This functions as the starting point for the development of the evidentiary debate. And what it allows is that the judicial guarantees of the accused are not questioned. It establishes that if the accused has undermined the state of innocence, this must be proven in the oral and public trial.

How is the presumption of innocence applied in Venezuela?

According to Article 49 of the Venezuelan Constitution, every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And he/she has the right to be notified of the charges against him/her, to have access to the evidence and to have the time and means to defend himself/herself. Therefore, if due process is violated, the evidence will be declared null and void before the courts.

Thus, the presumption of innocence in the Venezuelan context functions as a guarantee that should not be violated in order to protect the citizen who enters the procedural and criminal sphere.

The Public Prosecutor's Office as the holder of the criminal investigation

In this regard, it is worth mentioning that the Public Prosecutor's Office is the only agency responsible for the criminal action in the investigation of crimes. Therefore, it can only be charged when there is evidence attributing responsibility for the crime to a person. And in the case of social networks, it may happen that they are given an importance in criminal proceedings, since it is difficult to totally control and limit the information and the production of opinion matrixes by citizens, however, if it can be regulated.

This is why there is a fine line between freedom of expression and those behaviors that harm the dignity of others. Because slander and libel are crimes against honor and human dignity. And if they are published on social networks, they become a criminal act in the eyes of public opinion. Although for many users social networks are a space with unlimited freedom of expression, most are unaware that with a publication or a comment, they may be committing a punishable act.

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