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Judging mental capacity to engage safely with social media

11 February 2021
7 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 3


Richard Griffith, Senior Lecturer in Health Law at Swansea University, discusses recent cases from the Court of Protection that have focused on a person's mental capacity to engage safely with social media

The use of social media has increased dramatically over the past year, with people using it more frequently to maintain contact during COVID-19-related lockdowns. The rise of social media networks has already reshaped the way we engage with each other and with society. People who are vulnerable and have disabilities have identified the internet and social media as essential for access to information, entertainment and for maintaining contact with like-minded individuals while largely confined to their homes (Re A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet) [2019]).

Access to electronic devices and digital technology for people with disabilities is considered a right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where article 9 requires states to take appropriate measures to enable those with disabilities::

‘To live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life … [including] access, on an equal basis with others, … to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems.’

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