When Tweets Become 'Twibels'

ashtons, annabel mayer

People using social media need to understand the rules of publishing law and advertising regulations if they are to avoid allegations of defamation. 

This reminder follows the news that controversial columnist Katie Hopkins was recently refused leave to appeal against a recent High Court libel verdict, where she was found to have published defamatory Tweets, or what’s been coined a ‘Twibel’.

Anyone using social media is a publisher, putting information out into the public domain, but unlike newspapers and book publishers, most people don’t have a good understanding of publishing law and how to avoid breaching it. 

For Katie Hopkins, the Tweets she posted that were found to be defamatory implied that prominent poverty campaigner and writer Jack Monroe had defaced a war memorial, in a case of mistaken identity. Monroe offered her the chance to apologise publicly or face legal action, but Hopkins refused. When the case reached the High Court, the Tweets were found to have caused ‘serious’ harm to Monroe’s reputation and Hopkins was ordered to pay damages of £24,000. In addition to that, and of far greater concern to Hopkins, will have been being ordered to pay Monroe’s legal costs, which are thought to be a six figure sum. 

“Controlling social media content is a huge issue, especially for businesses,” says Annabel Mayer, “People could learn from the 26-point guide on how to use Twitter, published by the High Court with its official ruling in the Hopkins case. It makes for useful reading, even for those who think themselves experts, as a reminder of who will receive postings when tweeting, re-tweeting or replying.”

Annabel Mayer
T: 01473 849950
E: annabel.mayer@ashtonslegal.co.uk
Annabel has a great deal of experience in general dispute resolution work and is recommended for her work in the Legal 500, 2016 edition.