Much has been written about the Twitterfication of the Gaza war. But there's a much more significant war taking place right now on Twitter.
Latest battle in Twitter war is being fought over Lord Alistair McAlpine case, says Andrew Keen
McAlpine considering suing prominent Twitter users who falsely alleged he was a pedophile
Keen: Those with many Twitter followers are as liable under libel law as media companies
Tory Lord is right to pursue new media aristocrats who sullied his reputation, Keen adds
What's significant about McAlpine's "Twibel" strategy is his focus on "high-profile Tweeters" with more than 500 followers like Bercow, comedian Alan Davies and Guardian journalist George Monbiot who tweeted to his 56,000 followers: "I looked up Lord McAlpine on t'internet. It says the strangest things."
While McAlpine's lawyers are encouraging many less well-endowed Twitter users who spread the pedophile rumor to donate a small sum to a children's charity, their focus appears to be on going after big names like Davies who, with his more than 442,000 followers, gives him an audience almost nine times the size of the main Twitter account of The Times of London newspaper.
Early this year, Twitter announced a new policy giving the company the ability to "reactively withhold content from users in a specific country -- while keeping it available in the rest of the world." (Removing a tweet previously meant deleting it from the web entirely.)
Critics said the move was a form of censorship, but Twitter promised tweets would be removed only upon request and only if they broke the law -- a system that Alexander Macgillivray, one of the policy's architects, defended as a way "to keep more tweets up in more places."
The company refused to comply with all six government removal requests in the first half of 2012, but in October Twitter blocked access in Germany to the account of a neo-Nazi group that is banned by the German government, in addition to removing anti-Semitic tweets in France. "Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently," Macgillivray tweeted.
Twitter users charged with 'twibel' spreading false rumors on twitter&committing libel could be sued if they have a significant celebrity following and 'high-profile tweeters' with over 500 followers. That's not very many followers...that's what the average person might have.
I don't think censoring or banning twitter users who retweeted something someone might have falsely said should be responsible. The original poster should be responsible, many times people RT others without verifying or being able to verify facts but share it because they felt it was important or agreed with the tweet, but it doesn't mean that person is equally responsible for what someone else posts.
What's crazy is this author supports this Directors right to sue for libel, but he doesn't support the right to censor/ban terrorist groups like Hamas from twitter.
He concludes by saying:
Today's war about online freedom of speech is being fought both with and about the Twitter "pen." Let's hope that [t]he Lord McAlpine case encourages powerful voices on Twitter to self-censor tweets that might libel others. But that doesn't mean I'm in favor of censoring Twitter. So, for example, let's also hope that Macgillivray and his team resists calls by the US Israel lobby to ban political groups like Hamas from Twitter. Yes, this is a balancing act. And the future of free expression in our digital age rests on getting it right.