Social Media libel and false allegations.
I have used the Internet to research and highlight miscarriages of justice since 1997. When I first started it was dial up at the cost of a local call per minute. Not withstanding the extortionate costs, the speed was deplorable. I learnt to be patient and permanently broke!
The emergence of social media sites is still fairly new. Not even 10 years old, yet it has permeated every part of our daily lives. From talking about every day matters to debating serious political agendas. It has a life of its own now, with tweets and Facebook postings becoming integral to main stream news. And at times being the news, as was the case when people were making false claims against Lord McAlpine on Twitter. Even more fascinating was the legal case that then ensued, in which commentary on social media became the evidence in a court of law.
It is this case that highlighted how one claim, unproven and untested in a court, can snowball into a full blown attack on an individual. An attack that had no substance, an attack that caused serious harm to the McAlpine family. It is also the case in which rulings were made about Jig Saw identification. That is to say, placing sufficient information about somebody in the public domain so as to lead to their identification. This is happening again, as I write, in relation to yet another “high profile” individual, such is the nature of some of those who spend their lives on Twitter.
For those who have no desire to read the McAlpine Judgement, I have placed the relevant exert at the top of this post. Read it carefully and understand that you can be taken to court for repeating anything that all but names an individual whilst making allegations such as “paedophile” When those allegations are then deliberately circulated, tagging in other like minded people, there is a possibility that people are moving into a different set of laws, criminal ones.
It is one thing to highlight an injustice, or to challenge the veracity of what somebody is stating as fact, or in fact challenging somebody who may be lying on social media who has already involved the police (preventing an offence from being committed such as perverting the course of justice, which is a defence in law under the stalking act) It is quite another to believe that just because you say it’s true, with no evidence to prove that it is true, that you can state it is true. Twitter is not a court outside of it clearly now being marsupial!