Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Think before you publish: Legal dangers in social media and web publishing

"Think before you publish - especially on social media..." is one of the mantras I repeat in media law sessions I run.

But today I briefly fell in to the trap myself. A couple of journalists Tweeted and and RT'd an apparent libel by juxtaposition ie a headline on a story that could have been thought to refer to an unrelated picture of someone alongside it. If read together it's possible they could have suggested a defamatory meaning about the person in the photo.

I RT'd it too, agreeing in my Tweet that it could indeed be a juxtaposition which might imply that an innocent person was guilty of wrongdoing. Luckily @jonhew immediately reminded me that any RTs could also constitute re-publication of a libel. Blushing, I deleted the RT straight away and checked no-one else had RT'd me.

This was followed by a good Twitter conversation with others about the fact that at least we had put it in context, rather than republishing potentially defamatory material as fact.

But a good reminder anyway. "Think before you publish -  especially on social media..."

Lesson learnt.

I consoled myself with the fact that at least I didn't do as the Mail did and jump the gun on the verdict in the Amanda Knox trial .

And it was a good excuse to revisit this post on basic subbing tips by Peter Sands.

By the way, in a state of paranoia, before publishing this post I also checked that I was okay to use the Twitter symbol.

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