The 3 Twitter Lessons of The Lord McAlpine Case

By Rob  |  27 Nov 2012, 01:00pm  |  Category: Social Media

For those of you who don’t know the UK has been hit by another scandal in recent weeks. Basically for 40+ years one of the BBC’s biggest stars, Sir Jimmy Savile, was in fact one of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles.

Obvious questions have been asked. How did this happen? Who else was involved? Who knew, etc, etc...

This scandal has brought the BBC to its knees and led to the resignation of its Director General. However one unintended victim of this has been Lord McAlpine an ex-senior politician under the Thatcher regime.

As fears of a powerful paedophile ring in Britain grew the BBC’s flagship news programme Newsnight implied that Lord McAlpine may have been a paedophile. This caused a storm on Twitter with many thousands of people accusing him directly.

Sally Bercow, the Wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons Tweeted...

"Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*".

And comedian Alan Davies ReTweeted the accusations.

But as the accusations were completely baseless Lord McAlpine has acted accordingly. He has sued both the BBC and ITV -- and won. And now he is taking on Twitter. There are suggestions he will attempt to sue up to 10,000 Twitter users, but it looks like it may just be 20 high profile users...

Whether he will succeed and whether it will affect Twitter in any way are still open questions. But in our opinion we believe the impact will be minimal.

However there are lessons to be learnt for all Twitter users and we have three...

  • Keep to the subjective. Do not accuse anyone of anything that can be proven objectively true or false. For example there is a massive difference between calling someone, usually a politician, incompetent and saying they lied about something.
  • Understand the Law in your Country. As they say, “ignorance is not an excuse”. The Kernel Mag published a great post on UK law surrounding this topic. Give it a read and do some research.
  • Be careful what you ReTweet. It may seem like you are just sharing someone else’s content so you can’t be sued. But you are in fact responsible for publishing that content and it's why Alan Davies, mentioned above, is potentially in a lot of trouble. So always check what you ReTweet.

We hope this info helps and if you have any questions let us know @StatusPeople or at [email protected]

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