Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anon Tweeters: Why does the media love them so much?

After the childish debacle of the Telegraph having to pull down a web page that implied 13 injunctions posted by a Tweeter were true, Brendan O'Neill has blogged an interesting grown up article about anonymous tweets.

[BTW, Google never cached the Telegraph page but the link is still there (see the screen shot)]

"Some have argued that the right to remain anonymous on Twitter and elsewhere on the web (such as in the comment section of these blogs) is akin to the right of journalists to keep their sources secret. But there’s no comparison. An article that quotes from anonymous sources will still have a journalist’s byline and will have been nodded through by an editor. We trust that these named individuals know who the anonymous source is and can attest to his or her reliability. But purely anonymous Twitterers and bloggers could be anybody. There’s no reason we should take them seriously, and every reason to wonder about their honesty and trustworthiness.

Those fighting for “the right to tweet anonymously” are really demanding the right to behave like a schoolchild, to be free to do the modern-day equivalent of scrawling “Mr Higgins is a paedo” on the toilet wall without ever having to account for themselves. But freedom, true freedom, is about more than acting instinctively – it is also about having the cojones to take responsibility for your actions and to face down those who challenge or threaten you. In the balance of things, yes people should be free to tweet and blog and write anonymously if they want to – but there’s no reason the rest of us should believe what they say or indulge their warped fantasies about being brave whistleblowers."

Apologies for quoting so much, but these points are relevant.

So if the media hate anon Twitters, why do they source them in news articles?

By quoting Tweets, the media are legitimizing them. The reason they do is because they know many of these injunction busters are telling the truth and the media is so gagged and censored they get frustrated.

But guess what? Newspapers are selling more. Twitters value has gone up. The Human Rights Act 1998 has been discredited. People are actively debating the erosion of civil liberties in the UK. The introduction of a Bill of Rights looks ever closer. Lawyers like Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent LLP are gaining lots of TV exposure. The UK is looking less stupid.

More questions ...


  1. There are other reasons to stay anonmyous: Stalkers, murderous ex-husbands/wives etc. Knee-jerk laws create more problems than they solve.

  2. this is scary stuff

  3. With the English legal system as it is, I strongly favour anonymity for tweeters. Those tweeted about may well have the financial clout to pursue the tweeters through the courts. But how many tweeters could afford to defend themselves?

  4. still showing in the "telegraph search" thou... ( but for how long...?) >>>>

    Pop star wrongly identified on Twitter over injunction

    June 1 2011 | Martin Evans | Technology

    An international pop star, who was the subject of a blackmail plot, has become the latest celebrity wrongly identified as having obtained a super-injunction to hide an affair.


  5. So, speaking of taking responsibility, you'll be revealing which newspaper you work for now, right? Then you'll be answering the most important question of all: Did @InjunctionSuper rape and murder a girl in 1995?