The changing of the guard

Amongst the thousands of articles written about the superinjunction/Ryan Giggs debacle, one woefully out of touch article from The Guardian stood out. Written by Richard Hillgrove, who is described as a ‘business and political public relations consultant’, the article seems only to emphasise the divide between the old and new guard.

Many of the below the line commenter’s make the point that regulating what people write on a social network is nigh on impossible. Indeed, a couple liken the article’s point to the Royal Mail being sued for something they have written in a letter to a friend, or the fact the Twitter is somewhat analogous to a phone network.

Twitter is primarily a medium of communication, as is Facebook and numerous other social networks, people use them to chat to friends, make new friends, and sure, gossip now and then. No different really to a conversation I may have with a colleague around the watercooler surely.

Except the key difference is the potential for it to be heard; I may say something on Twitter which may get re-tweeted, replied to, discussed, even trending. Now, I may be somewhat overstating my Twitter reach here, but you get the point. It’s the same theory as when something goes ‘viral’; it might start off as a conversation between two people, but end up as it has in Ryan Giggs’s case, as one between millions of people.

And I suppose that’s the beauty and the terror of social media in a nutshell. Whatever the musings about whether social media is here to stay or not, the question of how it can be regulated is ultimately academic in my opinion, unless we really want to experience even more of a big brother society.

Current libel and privacy laws are not compatible with modern forms of communication, which seems simplistic to say, but changing the law is more feasible than fact-checking the trillions of status updates and tweets made on Twitter and Facebook. Which are just two of the ever growing number of social networks.

Twitter is not in and of itself a media outlet, it’s a conduit for words to be spread, between individuals, corporations, businesses, governments, and myriad other organisations. There is a fine line between free speech and libel, and walking that line becomes more perilous as our social and digital networks grow, but ‘reeling it in’? It’s not only an impractical suggestion, but a very naive one.

And if Richard Hillgrove needed proof in the power of Twitter, he now has his very own parody Twitter profile


About michelleallison
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