Internet abuse convictions double
Convictions for internet abuse have more than doubled in the space of five years alongside the enormous growth in popularity of social media sites.
Official figures show the number of people found guilty under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 has grown each year from 498 in 2007 to 1,286 in 2011.
They were found guilty of "sending or causing the sending of grossly offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing or false message/matter by electronic communications network".
Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, who requested the figures in a parliamentary question, called for internet guidelines to curb internet harassment.
"Given the massive growth in the internet and other media like Twitter and Facebook, it is hardly surprising that there has been such an increase in harassment convictions over the electronic media," he said.
"It is important that there are guidelines governing the internet to ensure it isn't used to harass people."
But freedom of speech campaigners have criticised section 127, claiming that it is being overused by the police and prosecutors.
In July, the High Court overturned an earlier conviction against Paul Chambers for what he called a "silly joke" in a tweet about Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire.
He was found guilty in 2010 of sending a "message of a menacing character".