Close to two-thirds of internet users are clueless when it comes to their legal rights and responsibilities online, according to a new survey.
Undertaken by DLA Piper, the survey revealed that 63 per cent of users have little or no awareness of their rights and responsibilities when posting comments on social media sites.
The survey also found that, despite recent high-profile cases highlighting the potential ramifications of the use and abuse of social media, 52 per cent of Twitter users do not consider whether their tweet could be in breach of the law before they send it.
Only six per cent of respondents said they have had a comment on a social media site removed by a site moderator.
Duncan Calow, a partner in DLA Piper's UK intellectual property & technology (IPT) group, said the online community is displaying a lax attitude when it comes to thinking about the potential consequences of using social media.
"Social media is ultimately about individuals, and we can see that younger generations especially display a more laissez-faire attitude towards the policing of social media," he said.
"However, recent events such as the London riots and celebrity Twitter scandals may have begun to challenge this perception that the online environment is - or indeed should be - free of regulation."
According to Alec Christie, a partner in the firm's IPT group in Sydney, while the survey was undertaken in the UK, the results are likely to be very similar in Australia.
"The survey results raise interesting questions about how Australia should consider regulating social media usage: new dedicated legislation, self-regulation through a code of conduct or more prescriptive terms and conditions, which are enforced," he said.