Monday, November 11, 2013

UPDATE: Second Re-Tweeter Pays Up in Lord McAlpine's U.K. Libel Case

English: Alan Davies. Cropped from original.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
British comic Alan Davies is the latest social mediaite to learn the cost of the dark side of retweeting; in this case, 15,000 pounds ($23,976), according to accounts in The Guardian and the media watchdog Web site.

Davies's resolution with Lord McAlpine follows the settlement last month with retweeter Sally Bercow, the spouse of the U.K. House of Commons Speaker. As reported here (see "TUOL" post 11/26/12), the retired British pol Alistair McAlpine, 71, one-time Conservative Party treasurer and confidant of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, settled a libel suit for roughly a combined $500,000 with the BBC and ITV last November.

Steve Messham, who alleged he was molested as a child, purportedly identified his alleged abuser in a photo whom police incorrectly said was McAlpine. Messham later apologized for the misidentification, but the BBC Newsnight program reported an unnamed North Wales politician was accused of pedophilia and the Twittersphere soon was active with posts suggesting that McAlpine was the abuser.

Davies, whom The Guardian reported has more than 400,000 Twitter followers, last year queried who the "Tory paedophile" was and retweeted a response identifying McAlpine. He was sued for libel by McAlpine despite promptly apologizing on Twitter for his posts. Bercow's 56,000 Tweeter followers allegedly received a post from her asking: "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*." McAlpine reportedly donated the settlement from Davies to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, according to The Guardian article.

The U.K. does not have the protection that likely would be accorded retweeters in the U.S. by Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which states: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information contact provider."
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