Twitter Threatens Legal Action Over Threesome Tweets



Why Is Twitter Sending Legal Letters Warning People About Tweeting About The Gagged Topic Of A ‘Celebrity Threesome’
from the don’t-let-the-sun-on-sunday-reveal-me… dept

For years we’ve written about the troubling practice in the UK of so-called super injunctions, which bar the press from discussing certain topics. It seems that these super injunctions are most frequently used to stop any discussion in the media of embarrassing situations involving the rich and famous. Of course, social media — and Twitter in particular — have become a real challenge to making those super injunctions have any meaning at all.

Apparently, one such super injunction was recently granted to a “celebrity couple” who added a third person to add a “trois” to the “menage.” The threesome doesn’t want their extracurricular activities to be discussed publicly, and the courts have obliged, with the UK Supreme Court upholding the super injunction, while the UK’s the Sun on Sunday tabloid sought to break the media gag order. I’m not exactly a fan of media reporting on the personal activities of what celebrities do in their bedrooms, but it still seems troubling to have courts completely bar the media from discussing the situation at all (they can discuss that the super injunction exists, but not much beyond that).

But, again, there’s social media. So it seemed doubly odd that people who had been tweeting about the “celebrity threesome” started receiving emails from the Twitter legal department alerting them that they may wish to be cautious about tweeting such things.
An email from Twitter’s legal team, seen by the Guardian, does not explicitly ask users to delete the tweets but hints that there could be consequences for not doing so.

The email reads: “The complainant requests that the following tweet, allegedly in violation of local law in the UK, be removed immediately from your account. Please confirm whether you will voluntarily comply with the request.”

It also includes a reminder that Twitter’s rules require that users “comply with all local laws regarding their online conduct and acceptable content”.
From that, it actually appears that lawyers for at least someone involved in the threesome reached out to Twitter to complain about specific tweets and argued that the super injunction applied there as well. Of course, the super injunction applies to media, which raises the question of whether or not random Twitter users qualify as “media.” At the very least, the Attorney General for England and Wales is similarly warning that even those tweeting the names may be prosecuted:
The attorney-general has warned Twitter and Facebook users may face prosecution if they name the celebrity at the centre of a privacy injuction banning the reporting of his alleged extramarital activities.

Jeremy Wright QC said in a statement that anyone who breached the order, not just newspapers, could have contempt of court proceedings brought against them.
So, perhaps the email from Twitter was just trying to protect its UK userbase from facing such legal actions.

Still, it appears the lawyers trying to silence these details are going after anything online they dislike. Last month they claimed that a random blogger violated the super injunction as well, and have also sought to use Europe’s “right to be forgotten” rules to remove search references as well.

Of course, all this activity seems to only be fueling even more interest on social media in leading people to figure out who the suspected celebrities are. Apparently tabloid publications outside of the UK have freely published the details of the story, so it’s not like anyone in the UK has to look very hard to find the details, and that was one of the arguments used against allowing the super injunction to continue — but apparently the Supreme Court was not convinced. Either way, even if Twitter argues it’s doing this to protect its users from possible charges (as ridiculous as those might be), there does seem to be something quite troubling when a company like Twitter is basically telling people to “watch what they say” for fear of potential legal consequences.


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Christopher Kemmett

Founder of The Real Strategy and Lowest Priced Advertisements.