Judge Judge’s comments re: injunctions and Twitter are naturally an intelligent and decent attempt by the Lord Chief Justice to begin to deal with the legal trickinesses presented by social media. Ultimately, though, he’s a long way behind the technological curve. Hilarious and opportunistic (obv not like the rest of us) lawyers have added comedy to the episode, though.
Judge Judge (I asked a supreme court judge the other week if that’s his real name, and it is! Prescient parents) reckons twitterers should be pursued if they break injunctions. Well, I appreciate some people tweet without caring if they can be identified by email trails and so forth, but if you want to tweet anonymously, it really couldn’t be easier. So pursuit is hardly likely to stop anyone who wants to fire up naughty injuncted info. Moreover, the legal talk pouring fourth from Schillings lawyers is a complete red herring. It’s really entirely academic that Twitter itself, as a Californian company, may or may not be bound by an order of the UK High Court. The point is that there are millions of messages flying all over the place and no-one has the resources to chase them all and make them all accountable. Very least of all the cops. Moreover, it’s not just Twitter, obviously. It’s being suggested that injunction breaches can be prevented just like child pornography. But it costs a couple of million quid to chase a few hundred sites each year (money well spent) and that hardly compares to millions of injunction references. It’s a daft suggestion. Perhaps judges should stay in more.
Cleverly, Judges Judge and Neuberger (who produced this week’s report) have also noted that people give much less credence to interwebby gossip than they do to the newspapers. And they’re right. Social media has ensured that hundreds of thousands of people think they know the identity of ‘the footballer’ and elsewhere lying gossip passed by mouth in the office and pub routinely costs people their reputation and jobs. As it is with regular gossip, people make up their own minds about the veracity of the stuff they’re hearing and give it import or otherwise accordingly. With Twitter, it’s no different. Most celebs can adjust to that, I think. If not, just the way it is.
But finally, what of Schillings, the famous law company, prostituting themselves by advising a footballer to make himself their fool by paying them to acquire massive publicity by otherwise pointlessly pursuing Twitter? I’d toss them a sixpence and head on to a proper lawyer.