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1 December 2010

Rachel on should libel law treat tweets differently from other published work?

Rachel Hawkes, account director, Elemental By Rachel Hawkes

.net big question: Should libel law treat tweets differently from other published work? People have informal chats on Twitter. Should things written in these chats be taken as seriously (legally) as if they were published in an article?


Rachel's comment:

"Tweets, or rather people Tweeting should most certainly be held accountable for false and defamatory statements, and it is inevitable that we see a big law suit where a big brand (either company or celebrity) with the money to pull the legal punches will come sooner rather than later. In fact, the first Twitter libel suit happened almost two years ago between Courtney Love and former fashion designer friend.

 

It’s inevitable given that Twitter has started to introducing advertising within its Twitter streams on third party platforms, soon to follow on its own website..net magazine logo

 

What will be the interesting part, is who will be held accountable. Using the now well known libel threat between Gillian McKeith and Ben Goldacre, McKeith went on to distance herself from the situation, going as far as to remove the links between her site and her Twitter account authenticating it as an official Gillian McKeith channel. @gillianmckeith, who in the first tweet reply, referred to herself in the first person, went on to refer to herself in the third person – further creating distance between herself and the threat of a libel suit.

 

In the case of a company or celebrity Twitter account, when unlimited numbers of people can use one single login, blame is far too easy to pass off (refer back to Habitat blaming its intern for its Twitter faux pas).

 

The informality and the real-time nature of Twitter leaves such situations being closer to being slanderous than libellous in my opinion...but hey, INAL."

 

Rachel's feedback first appeared in .net print magazine. See Tim's reply to the question here.

Categories: Technology, Social media, News, Marketing

Tags: .net, .net big question, Q&A, Twitter, Tweets, Tweeting, libel law, law, rachel hawkes

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