UncategorizedTwittering Trolling and Freedom of Speech

December 21, 20160

Here at GHW Solicitors we have been discussing Curtis Woodhouses’ somewhat amusing response to a twitter account holder “trolling” him for losing fights earlier this week. Apparently the former professional footballer turned professional boxer found out the trolls address and turned up to his road, tweeting a picture of the street sign to prove his whereabouts, and challenged the troll to meet him face to face. In a climb down that will bring a smile to anyone who has ever wanted to face up to a bully the troll responded with a tweet “i am sorry its getting abit out of hand i am in the wrong i accept that”.

Whilst it is easy to laugh at a silly spat backfiring it does raise the issue of the dangers of tweeting without thinking. Last year a student was sentenced to a 56 day custodial sentence after tweeting racist comments about Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba who suffered a cardiac arrest and was treated on the pitch in full view of the nations television cameras. It is not just the criminal courts that are unafraid of social media. The former Tory politician Lord McAlpine is pursuing Sally Bercow, wife of the Commons Speaker John Bercow, after she insinuated he was guilty of committing a crime by tweeting a comment to her followers. Last year, former New Zealand Cricket Captain Chris Cairns was awarded £90 000 compensation and £400 000 costs when a judge ruled that a cricketing opponent Lalit Mohdi had failed to prove allegations made against Mr Cairns of match fixing that he made on Twitter. It is clear from these examples that the Courts, both civil and criminal, have got a firm hand on social media and view defamatory remarks made via social networking sites much the same as the do if they were made in mainstream media. Many people hold the view that you are “safe” re-tweeting gossip as surely they can’t sue all of us but these cases serve to highlight that this is a hugely naive and misinformed viewpoint.

Here at GHW Solicitors our advice to our high profile clients and to all our clients is to keep your counsel, bite your lip and if you wouldn’t say it to their face then keep your mouth shut!

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