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Twitter and Free Speech

It is a post from Jessica Wagner about Twitter and free speech. When the Internet first started taking prominence in the 1990's, a new vehicle for free speech was built. Starting in the 1980's, billion dollar multi-media companies had started accumulating large papers, television networks, and radio stations. Many people worried that big business would conglomerate and eliminate the free speech which the United States was built on. Because of the amalgamation of media, it became harder for individuals to get their voices heard through the use of mass media.

Creating a website, blog, or posting on a comment forum is now the standard by which to get your voice heard in American. With the super-advanced speed at which social media has entered our lives, it is easier than ever to take information, a thought, or an opinion and spread it throughout the entire country or world.

Recently, there has been a lot of controversy over the use of Twitter and the rights of free speech as they relate to the micro-blogging website. The perpetrators of some of these plots needed to remember the rule about not yelling “fire” in a crowded building.

NBC News Twitter Handle Hijacked

On Friday, September 9th, a hacker group called The Script Kiddies took over NBC News' Twitter account and posted about a terrorist attack in New York two days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Their wave of misinformation spread quickly and caused virtual chaos across the country. The FBI is currently investigating the situation, but what kind of legal trouble will the group face?


Mexicans Arrested for Twitter Terrorism

In an extremely distasteful homage to the Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” fiasco, two Mexican Tweeters were recently arrested for posting about a fake school shooting in Veracruz. The Mexican state is prosecuting the duo to the fullest extent of the law and the two could face thirty years in jail for their mistake. While authorities used to be able to find a phone number or ISP address, pranksters creating chaos using Twitter can get away with complete anonymity if careful.

Courtney Love sued for Slander

Fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir is suing the troubled rockstar Courtney Love for apparently defaming and ruining her career with a series of demeaning Tweets. The designer is suing Love because of her high number of followers and the presence and clout her name carries. While this defamation suit is happening to a well-known celebrity, if Simorangkir wins it could start a trend to allow other to follow suit for suing over Tweets.

Twitter is still a new concept which will have to go through a trial and error process in order for courts to set legal precedence. Some might use it for good old fashion yellow journalism while others will use it as an extreme name-calling platform.


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