Twitter only makes the law an ass once the story gets onto it. Generally the only people who know about a story are the journalists and lawyers involved or the people linked to the story themselves, blogs Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
If the law around privacy is changed or injunctions currently in the news are dropped beware of the “It was Twitter wot won it” headlines that will follow – social media might simply have been the weapon used in an old fashioned battle between the mainstream media, the judges and celebrities.
Twitter only makes the law an ass once the story gets onto it. Generally the only people who know about a story are the journalists and lawyers involved or the people linked to the story themselves.
If a celebrity wins an injunction because lawyers have convinced a judge on grounds of privacy or other justifications it is up to them to send the court order to those media organisations they believe might run the story. That is often just one newspaper – or a small number of similar ones. Nobody sent me or my colleagues on Channel 4 News the injunction about the footballer accused of having an affair (who has now been named by a Scottish sunday newspaper). They must have assumed we didn’t know and would not be interested anyway.
More from Channel 4 News: New trouble for Twitter as injunction row intensifies
They would also have had to calculate that the more media organisations knew about the injunction the greater the risk of its contents being spread through gossip. In the old days hacks gossiped in their relatively small world about things they knew but couldn’t print. These days somebody along the line will tell somebody who publishes it on the internet. And as we have seen recently once it is on twitter it is basically unstoppable.
Today yet another footballer (not the one named in the Sunday Herald in Scotland) is being accused on the social networks of seeking an injunction to cover up an affair. It could be a coincidence. Or it could be a deliberate move by people along the complex line of media, legal and celebrity establishment to mock the whole injunction process using the internet.
Either way using injunctions is looking like an increasingly risky business for wayward celebrities, politicians and businessmen. Whether or not you care about their affairs, and personally I don’t, this battle to let newspapers print scandalous stories that sell is taking a radical new twist. Injunctions depend on being obeyed. The current cases suggest it is relatively easy to break them without being caught.
That isn’t Twitter or the internet making a mockery of the law it is the few individuals who are breaking the injunctions in the first place.
Follow @krishgm on Twitter.