Court of Protection to consider monitoring social media
The Court of Protection recently confirmed that they will make a decision on behalf of a woman in her 30s who suffers from learning disabilities, regarding her use of social media and whether a Local Authority should be able to monitor her social media accounts.
The case came before the Court of Protection (‘The Court’) following differing conclusions about whether Miss B (as she is known in the case) was able to make her own decisions about her use of social media, as well as care and contact with other people. Miss B was a vulnerable adult who had previously sent intimate photographs of herself to people who she did not know well and befriended a convicted sex offender.
The Court was asked to decide whether Miss B had the capacity to make decisions surrounding her use of social media, and received expert help and assessments from a consultant psychiatrist with a specialism in child and adolescent mental health, and Miss B’s social worker. The Court provided a checklist of things someone would need to be able to understand in order to make their own decisions about the use of social media. This included the use of privacy settings, ‘friends’ on social media not necessarily being friendly to you, and the fact that content you share with someone may be spread more widely on the internet.
The Court found that Miss B was unable to make her own decisions in this regard and the State will now have the ability to make decisions on Miss B’s use of social media, such as imposed supervision and the use of filters when using apps with parental controls. However, the Court stated that any decision must comply with Miss B’s human rights to freedom of expression and privacy, and her rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. The Court has the power to stop the Local Authority placing specific restrictions in place if family members or friends of Miss B think it would not be in Miss B’s best interests.
Court of Protection cases can involve incredibly sensitive material and its decisions can have a significant impact on the lives of people who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves.