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Twitter Libel : Tweeting and the Consequences

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Twitter-Libel-1Twitter Libel ?: Tweeting and the Consequences

In today’s ?social networked? world, people have unlimited choices in expressing themselves….their thoughts, ideas, opinions and anything that comes into their minds. Facebook and Twitter are just a few among the most popular tools used by millions of online users to express themselves.

Twitter, however, because of its nature of anonymity, has induced a lot of people to post comments and statements that they normally would not have voiced out openly ?in person?.

Many Twitter users who also openly use their real names in their Twitter account also seem to be more outspoken. This is perhaps because of the ?informal? nature of a tweet that many people make the mistake of not considering a ?tweet? a legitimate form of ?publishing? a statement.

Many members of the ?Twitterverse, both anonymous and those with identities, have found themselves in hot water due to some of the ?tweets? that they have uploaded on this vastly popular social network tool.

There are in fact a good number who had to face legal sanctions against them due to libelous tweets that they have posted. Some people already involved in court cases have also posted comments about ongoing trial cases and found themselves breaking laws prohibiting such actions.

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Video: Twitter Libel Case (intmensorg / YouTube)

 

Twitter has on record more than Two Hundred Thirty Million active users a month with about Five hundred Million Tweets posted every day. This means that each tweet posted has a huge potential to be read, re-tweeted, and read again (and so on) by thousands of Twitter users.

Some examples of Tweets exploding on the faces of the ones who posted it include celebrity singer Courtney Love ( wife of the late rock Legend Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana) and Marieke Hardy, a popular Australian author.

Ms. Love was brought to court by a fashion designer she ?defamed? and had to settle out of court to the tune of US$ 430 Thousand Dollars. If computed per character (Twitter only allows 140 characters per Tweet), this would mean she paid more than US$ 3 Thousand (US$3,071 to be exact) per character. She was also sued by her own lawyer in a separate tweeting incident where she posted that the lawyer was ?bought off? when the lawyer refused to file a fraud case on her behalf regarding a conflict over her late husband’s (Cobain) estate.

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Video: Courtney Love Libel Trial Case ( brainfoodvideos2 / YouTube)

 

Two years ago, Marieke Hardy had to settle out of court as well after Joshua Megitt of Melbourne claimed she wrongfully accused him in a tweet for starting and authoring a ?hate blog? targeting her. Marieke Hardy also had to issue an apology for the comments that were actually posted on her blog but was linked to a Tweet.

Twitter-Libel-2Ms. Sam Mutimer, the director of social media for Thinktank Social, a social media agency located in Melbourne explained this Twitter problem of libelous and defamatory comments as such – ? On Twitter everyone has a voice and anyone can be a journalist…I?ve seen it being used to personally attack a person or brand in ways that would possibility not be used face-to-face or over the phone.?

She added that many individuals on Twitter have a tendency to be much more ?colorful? than they normally are and ?seem to forget? the etiquette of conversing offline. The format of Twitter(140 characters), she says also gives people limited ways to get the attention of followers and they usually resort to explosive comments.

Mutimer advises everyone on Twitter and other social networks to remember manners and the basic structure of communication. She warns that ? Behaviour should be consistent across the board, however due to a screen perceived to be protecting the user in some way, manners drop very quickly…..People also tend to forget there is another person at the other end of the tweet.?

Photo Source: http://commstalkuk.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/twitter-libel-slander-defamation.jpg ; http://www.kernelmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Gagged.png

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