Super Injunctions: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

So a ‘mystery’ top class UK footballer is suing Twitter. How utterly ludicrous. Having been granted a privacy injunction that gags the print and broadcast media from stating his name in accordance with an alleged adulterous affair with Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, said player has now started legal proceedings against the microblogging network to silence that as well. He, or at least his misguided lawyers, consider that it has broken the original injunction. What a load of bullshit.

First, can Twitter really be held accountable for what I or anyone else posts? Second, why on earth would it disclose the names of all the people who have mentioned the affair as the lawyers want – it’d kill the network stone dead. Third, even if it did so, what then? Will the lawyers go after the tens of thousands of people individually; would each of them be sued for contempt of court? Hardly realistic is it. And fourth, how can Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, possibly come under the jurisdiction of the British courts? None of it makes any sense whatsoever.

The thing that makes this situation so laughable to me, however, is that everyone now knows far more about the player’s personal life and the alleged affair simply BECAUSE he is trying to sue Twitter. Talk about digging yourself a hole. That’s a FAR bigger story than some overpaid footballer unable to keep his ‘striker’  in his pants which, let’s face it, most of the world really couldn’t give a toss about.

While the original injunction stood, sure there was speculation on Twitter as to the identity of the player. But it was confined within Twitter. Now the story is all over the papers, the radio and the TV. I’m blogging about it when I really didn’t care before. The media can’t name him, but we all know his identity anyway as the speculation has spread far and wide simply due to the fact that people outside of Twitter are asking each other. Taking legal action against Twitter is quite possibly one of the worst PR decisions I’ve ever seen.

Maybe the whole preposterous situation demonstrates one thing about the power of social media: hiding the truth is no longer quite as easy as throwing money at it. Lord Judge, the most senior judge in England, said: “Modern technology is totally out of control. I’m not giving up hope on the possibility that people…may one day be brought under control, maybe through damages, very substantial damages, maybe even injunctions.” 1984 anyone?

The original concept of the web was as a leveller, a tool to empower ordinary people to gain access to knowledge and to share it with others. It was supposed to be about freedom of speech. And I can’t see the world at large letting society fall into an Orwellian future under the threat of the Thought Police. So Mr Footballer: suing Twitter? Pur-lease…

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