13 November 2012 - 9:15am | posted by | 3 comments

Leveson 'must find a way of reining in Twitter and Facebook' MPs warn following McAlpine scandal

Leveson 'must find a way of reining in Twitter and Facebook' MPs warn following McAlpine scandalLeveson 'must find a way of reining in Twitter and Facebook' MPs warn

Senior MPs have said that Lord Justice Leveson must find a way to stop people from wrongly identifying people using social media channels, after Lord McAlpine was falsely accused of being a paedophile.

MPs suggested that restricting the Leveson report to only newspapers would only address ‘yesterday’s problems’.

Conor Burns MP, a Conservative member of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: “At the moment you have got this situation where newspapers are rightly constrained by libel and defamation laws but people are linking to the stories through the internet and spreading vile and heinous lies about people, who have no right of redress.

“Lord McAlpine’s reputation was in tatters last week because people were able to post things with complete impunity on the internet. We are going to have to bring Facebook and Twitter under the same laws as libels committed by newspapers or television channels.”

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Comments

13 Nov 2012 - 09:34
racha32858's picture

While it is completely wrong that the innocent should be wrongly accused, whether through the medium of social media or any other, the thought that sites like twitter and facebook could possibly be governed by the same laws as newspapers and television channels, does open up the debate about free speech... I'm not sure what I think the best course of action would be. Anyone have any thoughts?

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13 Nov 2012 - 11:54
Jonathan Pollinger's picture

I'm not sure that Conor Burns MP is quite right. The libel laws already apply across all channels including newspapers and social networks. I don't think further regulation is needed when the law is already in place.

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13 Nov 2012 - 12:59
Kristal Ireland's picture

I agree with the other comments here. It is very important that this incident is taken seriously and investigated but I feel it should be covered under the existing libel laws. The concern I have over all this is the sceptic in me feeling this is exactly the kind of case study the existing government will use to try and usher in draconian restrictions to our freedom of speech.

Yes we need accurate and and competent journalism in the press - but we also need to have freedom of the press to ensure the whole profession isn't damaged and our freedom of speech as a whole is protected.

I am sure over the next 12 months we will see more and more of these kinds of incidents - but when those who publicised the name of a rape victim on Twitter only received a £624 fine each (that they will pay back out of benefits http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/11/10/will-meager-624-fine-naming-rape-...), will this be another example of cases only being brought and fully prosecuted by those with deep pockets?

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