Twitter, Giggs, Imogen, and Freedom of Speech
Back in the 20th century, news editors used to hold a daily TV slot or front page column for the latest human interest story. These days we can expect to see a Twitter, Facebook or Google scandal in the same space that used to be reserved for a Parrot reciting the complete works of Shakespeare.
The ability of social media to empower the sharing of information is obviously its raison d’ etre; cutting out the middle man, we are able to pick up, understand and spread our news without the help or approval of a broadcasting body. Unfortunately for the establishment, accustomed to influencing public opinion through media regulations and the judiciary, there is no way to censor a tweet before it happens. Yet.
Just this week, Twitter has been forced to defend its role in facilitating the outing of a typically horny footballer who obtained a high court ‘super-injunction’ to keep his dirty underwear out of sight. Suggesting that Twitter has anything to do with this issue is a simple case of shooting the messenger. Despite the fact that the rich are apparently allowed to gag us all through a high court super injunction, I for one didn’t receive any kind of official order instructing me to refrain from typing Ryan Giggs is a naughty boy and pressing enter.
Piers Morgan, Dom Joly, Toby Young and DJ Boy George probably didn’t get this message either. It appears you might be prosecuted for passing on something you heard, because it might affect people’s opinion of a man who wears shorts, with no legal warning before the event. I guess everyone might as well move to China.
Another scary instance of Twitter censorship is this week’s revelation that back in January, Alan Sugar was ordered to take down a tweet that involved no more than idle speculation about Lord Taylor’s expenses fraud;
“Lord Taylor Tory peer in court over alleged expense fiddle. Wonder if he’ll get off as he is a Tory compared to Labour MP who was sent to jail.” @alansugar
Surely there’s no proper, valid reason to censor that? Of course, we’ve also been ordered to not call Fred a banker, or mention his zipper issues. Combine these facts with the ludicrous notion that a footballer’s sex life is somehow sacred and worthy of being a ‘state secret’, and it looks like we could be knee-deep in an Orwellian nation, watched over by the thought police.
The ease of communication facilitated by social media and the internet, is also contributing to the erosion of freedom of speech. With services like Twitter being forced to reveal users personal data, anything deemed a transgression can be punished. Just as we are learning to enjoy it, our freedom to exchange information and express ourselves through social media is about to come under fire.
Tweet freely, while you can. Even about politicians, bankers and boys with no ball control.