Twitter is not just a closed coffee shop among friends. It goes out to hundreds of thousands of people and you must take responsibility for it. It is not a place where you can gossip and say things with impunity, and we are about to demonstrate that.
Andrew Reid, lawyer for Former Tory Party treasurer Alistair McAlpine, to the Daily Mirror. Tweet revenge: Tory to sue 10,000 Twitter users who branded him a paedo.
The News: Earlier this month the BBC’s Newsnight aired a program about an unresolved sex abuse scandal that took place in UK children’s homes in the 1970s and 1980s. In it, Newsnight linked an unnamed Conservative Party member to the crimes but, oddly, never actually named him.
Soon, however, Twitter users were identifying Alistair McAlpine as the unnamed politician. Which he isn’t, or wasn’t, as the case may be.
In the aftermath, the BBC’s director general George Entwistle resigned and two BBC news executives, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell have “stepped aside.”
Now, McAlpine intends to sue those who tweeted and/or retweeted the allegations. The Daily Mirror reports that 10,000 people have been identified.
Via the New York Times:
In a damning report after months of investigation into the hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, a British parliamentary panel concluded on Tuesday that Mr. Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run a huge international company.
The startling conclusion about the world’s most influential media tycoon went much further in criticizing Mr. Murdoch than had been expected from Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport, which has conducted several inquiries into press standards, the most recent starting last year.
Via the BBC:
After initially claiming that malpractice was limited to one “rogue” reporter at the News of the World, News International has now settled dozens of civil cases admitting liability for hacking between 2001 and 2006.
More than 6,000 possible victims have been identified and the police have so far made a number of arrests in connection with an investigation reopened in January 2011 - although no charges have yet been brought.
Via the Guardian:
Rupert Murdoch, the document said, “did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking” and “turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications”.
The committee concluded that the culture of the company’s newspapers “permeated from the top” and “speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International”.
That prompted the MPs’ report to say: “We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company.”
Even the BBC took up the social media panic discourse on August 9th and reported about the power of social media to bring together not only five, but 200 people for forming a rioting “mob”. Media and politicians created the impression that the riots were orchestrated by “Twitter mobs”, “Facebook mobs” and “Blackberry mobs”… A few month ago we had “Twitter revolutions” and “Facebook revolutions” in Egypt and Tunisia, one now hears about “social media mobs” in the UK. So what to make of these claims?…
…Blaming technology or popular culture for violence –- the Daily Mirror blamed “the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority (especially the police but including parents), exalts trashy materialism and raves about drugs“ for the riots –- is an old and typical ideology that avoids engaging with the real societal causes of riots and unrest and promises easy solutions: policing, control of technology, surveillance.
It neglects the structural causes of riots and how violence is built into contemporary societies. Focusing on technology (as cause of or solution for riots) is the ideological search for control, simplicity and predictability in a situation of high complexity, unpredictability and uncertainty. It is also an expression of fear. It projects society’s guilt and shame into objects. Explanations are not sought in complex social relations, but in the fetishism of things.
If riot info and fear is spreading by Facebook and Twitter, shut them off for an hour or two, then restore. World won’t implode.
Tory MP Louise Mensch, The Telegraph. UK riots: teenager charged with BlackBerry incitement.
Yesterday we noted an article from GigaOm that England is considering shutting down social networks in order to disrupt and ultimately halt “unrest”.
But social networks weren’t the only platforms considered. The government was hoping to get help from Research in Motion in order to target those using its Blackberry Messenger Service.
Done. Today, an 18-year-old was accused of intentionally encouraging “the commission of an offense under [England’s] Serious Crime Act 2007” by sending messages via her phone.
Yesterday a 27-year-old man was arrested for doing the same.
This comes days after RIM promised England’s authorities that it would help “in any way we can”.
Police already have powers to access stored data and monitor social networks in real time under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Nevertheless, in his speech to Parliament yesterday, David Cameron said new powers were under consideration.