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Sue Me With 140 Characters

twitter Sue Me With 140 CharactersWhenever you feel excited, happy, angry, ridiculed or annoyed with someone or something, these days, it is so easy to express your frustration by sharing it with your friends and acquaintances online. Indeed, Twitter has made this form of “self-expression” incredibly popular; but like everything, it can be a double-edged sword in certain circumstances.

Twitter is currently in the spotlight because of the first high-profile defamation lawsuit to result from one user suing another for the “defamatory” content of their tweets. Courtney Love, a rocker and a Twitter user, has been sued by designer Dawn Simorangkir, also known as the Boudoir Queen.  This legal action occurred after Love made personal remarks targeting the designer after Simorangkir demanded payment for some designer clothing that Love had rejected as unsatisfactory. As a result of this lawsuit, scheduled to go to court February 9, 2011, some Twitter users have become paranoid about their posts, fearing that what they Tweet could land them in legal hot water.

So, what could compel someone like Dawn Simorangkir to sue somebody for 140 characters  of defamation?

Courtney Love sings “Celebrity Skin”

This is the number one question now being discussed among those following the case of Courtney Love, who happens to be the first big star to face civil charges over her posts on Twitter. Public warnings have been issued by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic to warn users that this social media site was not properly educating its users about possible liability exposure; the organization also strongly discourages users to limit their postings of controversial statements that could result in legal action being taken against them.

As the very first major case filed, much of Love’s defense might rest on whether or not Tweets can be defamatory, considering their miniscule 140-character limit. This will largely be a battle to determine the difference between facts and opinions. Unlike in newspapers where an article can be labeled as an opinion piece—which anyone of sound mind would understand to be a personal view rather than fact—Tweets are posted without any such labels, leading some to take them as fact and some to take them as opinion.

Courtney Love’s case is considered by many as a possible sign that the rules of the social media usage game have started to change. As such, you can expect many Twitter users to go incognito or to tone down the rhetoric. If that happens, the purpose of social media networking is defeated. When was the last time you tweeted?

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  • About the Author:
    Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile.

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