Lincolnshire Police has issued a warning on the run-up to the county council elections that any published false statements about candidates’ character or conduct is a criminal offence.
Under the Representation of the People Act 1983, a person may be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 if they are found to have made such a statement.
A police spokesman said: “It should be appreciated that that this includes comments on social media.
“In addition private libel action could be considered by the candidate against those who make or publish such comments.”
Anyone who has an administrative responsibility for social groups, information providers or the like, could also be liable for the actions of people who post comments, if they are not suitably monitored and if necessary the comments removed, the force added.
In 2011 the Electoral Commission for the UK recorded 45 allegations of people making false statements about candidates.
Detective Sergeant Ian Jarman of the Economic Crime Unit of Lincolnshire Police, said: “While it may be seen as a minor issue, I believe that voters would expect that the election process is carried out correctly, and that all those involved in the elections would carry out their campaign with integrity.”
Elections are due to take place on May 2.