Police have warned internet users they could face jail time if they abuse people online.
In a time of heightened political tensions, South Yorkshire Police have urged people to think twice about what they post on social media.
They said posts that were grossly offensive, indecent, menacing or threatening, which purposely cause distress and anxiety to the recipient, were a crime and punishable by a fine or even jail time.
Officers said examples of malicious communications include threats to hurt or kill, or posts which incite violence, discrimination of any kind, including racism and sexism, false information, obscene images, videos or text and cyberbullying.
And they added an offence of malicious communications occurs as soon as the communication is sent, and does not even have to be received by the intended person to be considered a crime.
ACC Tim Forber at South Yorkshire Police said: “Social media, when used for positive purposes, is a great way to share opinions, views and beliefs, and connect with a wide audience of people from all kinds of backgrounds.
“However, sometimes sharing strays into a different territory. Some people feel that because they are behind a screen they can get away with posting malicious content, but offences of this type can be punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine.
“We want to urge people to consider their actions online, and think before they post. A seemingly small act online can reap massive consequences - for the victim and perpetrator alike.
“If in doubt, if you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, certainly don’t say it online.”