Digital PR – Watch what you tweet

Digital PR – Watch what you tweet

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

The rules that once applied to journalists, now apply to us all. Well, those who tweet and/or blog and that’s most of us, right? In today’s world, where all individuals who post material online are subject to the same laws and are as legally responsible as those of professional publishers, such as newspapers or broadcasters. Ignorance is not a defence.  Swot up or risk legal action.

Here is what you need to know:

  • False and defamatory statements posted on Twitter or in a blog are not immune from legal action
  • A retweet or repetition of a false and defamatory statement is also not immune from legal action
  • The original tweeter or blogger can be responsible for the additional news-spread caused by the retweets, if retweets were a reasonably foreseeable consequences of the first tweet
  • The original tweeter or blogger can also be responsible if the statement is picked up by mainstream media
  • An individual cannot avoid liability by claiming that the statement in question is information already in the public domain

Why does it seem so strict? The law is designed to protect against the spreading of false and defamatory rumours.

The latest case in point is Sally Bercow’s tweets naming a girl in child abduction case and linking Lord McAlpine with child abuse claims. The former was because she breached the order made under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, banning identification of the girl.

For more guidance from media lawyers, here is a great post on The Kernel which goes into much more detail.

As the saying goes, think before you speak…tweet, blog and retweet.

 This post was written by Charlotte.

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