A Melbourne man is suing over a defamatory tweet, but rather than suing the author of the tweet he plans to sue Twitter itself.
It all began when a writer by the name of Marieke Hardy mistakenly identified Joshua Meggitt as the author of a “Hate blog” written about her. Hardy wrote on Twitter ”I name and shame my ‘anonymous’ internet bully. Liberating business! Join me,” she then linked to her blog where Mr Meggitt was incorrectly identified.
It was a tweet seen around the world, and now that Hardy (below) has already reached a confidential legal settlement with Mr Meggitt, believed to be about $15,000, and published an apology on her blog, his lawyers are seeking damages from the social media site where the original defamation had the greatest exposure. –Sydney Morning Herald
Normally I would sympathise with Mr Meggitt as he had false information posted to the Internet about him. However this is not one of those times. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald a settlement has already been reached with the offending party. Needless to say I don’t think Marieke Hardy had any malicious intent she just stuffed up and made a genuine mistake. A mistake she is now paying for.
So Joshua Meggitt has his compensation (If the article I quoted is correct) by way of a legal settlement. Personally I would love $15,000 every time someone wrote a false accusation about me on the internet, I would never have to work again.
Mr Meggitt’s lawyer Scott Gibson told Fairfax Media his client was now seeking legal redress from the social media company: “Twitter are a publisher, and at law anyone involved in the publication can be sued.” –Herald Sun
However the offending Tweet never appeared on Twitter. Hardy posted the offending content on her blog. She simply used Twitter to notify people of her blog post, a post she has since apologised for making. Twitter had nothing to do with the content of that blog post.
So why does Joshua Meggitt want to got after Twitter. I personally suspect that greed is playing a role here and Twitter has deeper pockets than Hardy does; at least $140 Million USD per year.
All Australians should be pissed off by this assholes (I held out as long as I could) attempt to hold a service provider liable. In this country we are already a technological backwater and while Twitter is outside Australian jurisdiction to set such a legal precedence here will have dire consequences for us all. If service providers are held accountable for content created by their users it will completely abolish the Web 2.0 in this country. Afterall who in their right mind would host a website or other communications platform if they are to be sued and censored every time someone gets upset with what someone else writes about them.
I host my website offshore because it’s already too easy for miscreants in Australia to bully service providers into taking content offline. But if someone emails me and shows me that information is false I will gladly correct it. Misinformation is damaging and should be addressed, but the correct way to deal with it is by dealing with the author. Most people; at least those who attribute their names have no desire to publish inaccuracies and are happy to correct false information when they are called on it.
However attacking a service provider who has nothing to do with the creation of the content; anymore than the post office or phone company is simply the wrong approach and any sympathy I might of had for Joshua Meggitt is long gone.