Twitter storms

Twitter seems to be in the news a lot recently.   Or more accurately, causing the news.   We all know about the storm surrounding whether or not a certain gentleman was libeled by Twitter users and a certain current affairs programme.  I am not getting into that argument, for argument it is and I don’t want his name on my blog and to possibly get dragged into the row.

This is raising the question about how people use Twitter and if anything they say can be taken down and used against them in court.   It is quickly spiralling out of control and I think the world needs to get a grip.

Now Channel 4 are asking on their blog about whether we need a Green Cross Code for blogging.   All because apparently Sally Bercow asked what was happening in the case of the schoolgirl who had been in the news for going to France with her teacher.    A school girl that apparently we are now no longer allowed to name because children who are the subject of court cases are granted anonymity.

Did you know that?!  I didn’t.  Do most people?  Yes, the law makes sense on this point as it concerns a minor but do people know they can’t name her?  And if they do, inadvertently, on Twitter they are liable to a fine of £5000.

I wrote a blog post about that particular school girl where I clearly named her.   Her name was in the title of the post.   If I now link to that post on Twitter am I going to jail?   I am not allowed to name her now but I am allowed to have an archived post.   The post is here, in case you missed it before: blog post about a girl we can no longer name

What have I said that is libelous?!  Nothing.  The same amount that Sally Bercow did with her Tweet where she simply asked if anybody knew what had happened to the teacher accused in the case.   Yet Sally Bercow has now deleted her Twitter account and is facing a possible law suit over this, and the Tweet relating to the current affairs gentleman.

My original post was my opinion on the whole case.   Are we no longer allowed an opinion?  OR TO EVEN ASK A QUESTION?!!!!  That is all Sally did this week, asked a question and named somebody in the case so people would know who she was talking about when confined to 140 characters.

On blogs or on Twitter if we ask these questions now or ask why something is trending we run the risk of being sued.  This is a very slippery slope.   Some would say it is encroaching on our Freedom of Speech.    Now of course we shouldn’t be able to say anything we like about everybody, it is right that we have libel laws in genuine cases but shouting “contempt” to people who may or may have slipped up?

You will note in that blog that I was very careful to state it was my opinion and I was not stating things as facts as I didn’t know the facts but the idea that by reposting that blog now I am in contempt is, well, just barking.

And if I have just put my foot in it but bringing this subject up will one of you organise a whip round to post bail for me?

 

 

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  • We are running the gauntlet with the accessibility of information online, the usability of it and our own inquisitive nature. People should remember that social media channels are not the garden fence or the school playground where gossip is/was between two people. There are many eavesdroppers who like to play a little game of Chinese Whispers.

    And, lets be honest, Sally B does actually tweet out a few things to cause controversy, doesn’t she? And she does it because she knows she has a great amount of followers. It that’s what floats her boat then she needs to take the rough with the smooth.

    • Very true, Nickie.

      I want to retweet some of the things David Icke was saying on Wednesday night during the Exposure programme because they were just so outrageous, but didn’t for fear of being sued.

      It will be interesting to see if he gets served with a writ by the royal family, Mountbatten’s family, or the Bush family after his tirade. if he doesn’t then Sally B may have a point about her pursuit being politically motivated.

  • There’s a lovely anecdote re a chat between a player and a referee: the player was semi-outraged at being penalised and asked “If I called you a prick what would you do?”
    “Red card straight away”

    “But what if I merely thought that?”
    “Can’t touch you for that”
    “OK, I think you’re a prick”

    Discuss

  • This is all driving me batty too. It all seems too much and now I find myself not sending tweets just in case, censoring myself even though what I want to say probably isn’t libelous, but I don’t know because I’m not a lawyer, I’m just your average person who wants to voice their opinion and it feels as if that’s not allowed anymore.

  • It is crazy as she did only say he is trending “smiley face” or words to that effect. But equally, the BBC didn’t even name him at all and yet they have paid £185k, AND he is running after ITV for £500k. Anyone who tweeted his name is now being asked to pay £5 to charity so people are now quite rightly asking if he is giving the £185k to charity, which is a reasonable assertion to make.
    I think we are in dodgy territory with this whole thing. It scares me the implications it is having to be honest. I am glad you are brave enough to blog about it.

    Have a read of this if you have time as it is VERY interesting:

    http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/lord-mcalpine-shock-new-question-from-australia/

    Because what some people are saying is yes it wasn’t him, but it “may” well have been someone with the same surname, (a relative) who lived in the area. That seems to be what is being said, yet people who are speed reading are focusing on the fact that Steven got it wrong, and discrediting him as a result.

    Liska xx

  • To be perfectly honest, I couldnt give a rats ass if they try and take me to court about mentioning something in the news. I wouldn’t be vile , or horrible but if I wanted to write or discuss a current event, I will do so. Drag up in a court, throw me in jail for a few nights or try and fine me where i will pay a few pence towards it each week. I won’t be dictated to.I had a recent experience with a newspaper in Glasgow where i questioned a title of an article and the time keeping of a journalist. That paper was all over my blog for days and she insinuated what the repercussions were . I was stating a thought when I blogged about it and an opinion. They poss tried to see if I could be done for libel etc but they couldn’t and the post wont be removed.