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The end of the Tweet

Written by Michael Coyle on 21 May 2011

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The high court yesterday granted an order against Twitter for disclosure of those persons tweeting and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, was quoted as saying that "modern technology was totally out of control" and called for the people who "peddle lies" online to be fined.

Its been reported today that a high profile footballer has written to Twitter threatening it with legal action in the USA. It is claimed that Twitter and its tweets have breached the terms of the injunction granted by the UK's High Court. The 'super injunction' has been flavour of the month in the UK as various individuals seek to prevent the media from referring to their various activities. While the relief sought prohibits the press and traditional media outlets from reporting the tittle tattle, they have not prevented social networking sites from doing the same. This has resulted in users of these sites speculating on who the person is etc.

The law will struggle to keep up with the technology and that people will continue to speak about the great and the good with abandon. The question is whether or not the providers of the medium ie Twitter, Facebook etc are liable as publishers of the content? The answer must be yes based on case law, as soon as a publisher is notified of defamatory content it must remove the content or face the legal consequences. The author's identity will also have to be revealed.

Whether the injunction can be enforced in the USA is another matter and is a non starter. It is fascinating though as the law seeks to keep up with privacy and freedom of speech debate. In any event I fear the Barbara Streisand momentum will kick in and sooner or later the footballer will be outed as more and more people will resent their freedoms being eroded and feel they can say what they want with abandon.

Interesting times ahead.

If you're interested in Commercial Litigation and would like to find out more, please call Michael Coyle on 0800 0862 0157 or email michael.coyle@lawdit.co.uk for a free no obligation chat.

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