Twitter, libel and lies
The world of technology invariably desensitises you by removing a physical reaction to your action. There don’t seem to be direct consequences – hence people are often ruder in emails or on social media than they would be in real life or on the phone. After all, the chances of someone finding and punching you are that much smaller.
This has led a lot of people to see the internet world as beyond the law, a cyber Wild West where anything goes. And, to a certain extent it does – it takes time and effort to track down anonymous internet trolls, often requiring costly legal action to force ISPs or social networks, such as Facebook, to provide their names and addresses. Cases such as the breaking of the Ryan Giggs super-injunction just reinforce this belief.
But Twitter is subject to the laws of the land in the same way as any other written communication. That’s the realisation that is slowly dawning on the large number of people who tweeted or retweeted, wrongly naming or linking former senior Tory Lord McAlpine with child abuse claims. The innocent peer has instructed his solicitors to sue those who have defamed him online, with his lawyers urging those who tweeted the story to come forward and apologise. Many high profile names have already done so but what will be interesting is what happens to those that don’t apologise. They have clearly, if unwittingly, broken the law but tracking down every one of them and launching separate legal proceedings will be time consuming and costly. And it provides an interesting legal conundrum for judges – do you set damages based on the number of followers someone had when they sent the tweet? Is this a real use for Klout scores at last?
Before anyone starts muttering about Twitter crackdowns and eroding free speech it is important to understand the law. You can defend your words based on it being true, an honest opinion or a public service – but blatant untruths and lies are the same online as offline. In the aftermath of the Lord McAlpine case everyone on Twitter should take a look at the risks they face, but more importantly exercise a little common sense. As David Aaronovitch says in this (paywalled) Times article – Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t be happy to see on a newsagents’ shelf with a picture of yourself above it. Or, I’d add that you wouldn’t say to someone down the pub if you thought they might punch you for it.
8 Comments »
Why Revolutionary Measures?
Marketing is undergoing a revolution. The advent of social media provides the opportunity for one-to-one communication for the first time since the move to an industrial society. This blog will look at what this means for B2B PR and marketing, incorporating my own thoughts/rants and interests. Do let me know your feedback!
About meI'm Chris Measures and I've spent the last 18 years creating and implementing PR and marketing campaigns for technology companies. I've worked with everyone from large quoted companies to fast growth start-ups, giving me unrivalled experience and ideas. I'm now director of Measures Consulting, an agency that uses this expertise to deliver PR and marketing success for technology businesses.
- RT @Eagle_LabsCambs: #Cambridge, we are hosting a 1-hr seminar by @plcowley on #angel #funding on 14/12 at 12:30pm. Register 👉 @ thankyou@e… 1 day ago
- RT @LibDems: We do not want a ‘hard Brexit’; we do not want to be pulled out of the Single Market; and we will not let intolerance, divisio… 4 days ago
- RT @adaprogrammers: In 1st place is Stephane Carrez! His EtherScope project is a monitoring tool that analyses Ethernet traffic on an STM32… 1 week ago
- RT @jameskanter: Q. You want to remain in single market or not? A. @DavidDavisMP " ... aim is to make it as open as possible." #Brexit opac… 2 weeks ago
- And this is before the Amazon Echo! BBC News - Amazon ordered to refund children's in-app purchases bbc.co.uk/news/technolog… 3 weeks ago
advertising Amazon Android Apple ARM Artificial intelligence Autonomy Barack Obama BBC BBC Micro Business Cambridge Cambridgeshire Cambridge University CfEL Chris Measures Communications Creativity Crossing the Chasm Daily Mail David Cameron Digital Donald Trump Ed Miliband Edward Snowden Entrepreneur European Union Facebook FIFA Google government Hewlett Packard IBM Idea Transform innovation Intel internet Internet of Things iPad IPhone Journalism Journalist LinkedIn London Malcolm Tucker marketing Mark Zuckerberg Measures Consulting Microsoft mobile MySpace Nick Clegg Nigel Farage Nokia Norwich PR Privacy Public Relations Raspberry Pi Silicon Fen Silicon Valley Smartphone social media Social network Starbucks startup Tech City Technology The Economist twitter United States WhatsApp World Cup YouTube ZX Spectrum
Site infoRevolutionary Measures
Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.