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.
- Happy 50th birthday to Moore's Law - but will it make 60? My blog looks at the changing face of tech measuresconsulting.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/moo… #MooresLaw 4 days ago
- @nigel_cl_thomas Yes, or even get the name of it wrong! 4 days ago
- @nigel_cl_thomas If they can't dedupe their own marketing lists, doesn't give much confidence for the ones they sell 4 days ago
- Not sure I'll be buying targeted marketing lists from a company that emails me 3 times in 5 minutes with identical messages #datacleansing? 6 days ago
- @SteveRanda @socialmedia2day Best case is that ads are more targeted, so less overstimulation. But that depends on advertisers being focused 1 week ago
advertising Amazon Android Apple ARM Artificial intelligence Autonomy BBC BBC Micro big data Business Cambridge Cambridge Judge Business School Cambridge University CfEL Coca Cola Creativity Daily Mail David Beckham David Cameron Deloitte Ed Miliband Education Edward Snowden Entrepreneur European Union Facebook Google government IBM Idea Transform Initial public offering innovation Intel Internet of Things iPad IPhone iTunes Journalism Journalist LinkedIn London marketing Mark Zuckerberg Measures Consulting Microsoft mobile MySpace Nick Clegg Nokia Norwich Online Communities PayPal 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 University of Cambridge Vodafone WhatsApp World Cup YouTube ZX Spectrum