Twitter gives up details of anonymous tweeter

In a case that might help the legal action of soccer star Ryan Giggs, Twitter reveals the personal details of a British tweeter who is alleged to have libeled members of a local council in the U.K.

One of the fun aspects of Twitter is that you can pretend to be someone else--or just make a name up for yourself--and express your true feelings about so very many things.

However, if your feelings happen to be seen as libelous, you might now have a problem.

For the Guardian reports that Twitter has revealed the name, e-mail address, and telephone number of a person who tweeted some rather critical notions about a local council in the U.K.

The council of South Tyneside, in the rather chilly north of England, decided to petition a court in California in order to secure these details.

Twitter's privacy policy does state the following: "We may disclose your information if we believe that it is reasonably necessary to comply with a law, regulation, or legal request; to protect the safety of any person; to address fraud, security, or technical issues; or to protect Twitter's rights or property.

Will soccer star Ryan Giggs be now emboldened by Twitter's actions? CC Gordon Flood/Flickr

It seems that, in this case, several Twitter accounts had been the repositories of rather severe accusations. And the Guardian reports that suspicion had fallen on one of the council's own members, Ahmed Khan, who reportedly admitted that Twitter had contacted him to inform him of his unmasking. Khan reportedly said, though, that he was not the author of the material that is alleged to be libelous.

Khan told the Guardian: "It is like something out of 1984. If a council can take this kind of action against one of its own councilors simply because they don't like what I say, what hope is there for freedom of speech or privacy?"

Well, now, talking of freedom of speech and privacy, where does this leave the distraught mind of world famous soccer player Ryan Giggs and the rippling muscles of his lawyers?

Should you have missed seeing Giggs' Manchester United humiliated by Barcelona in yesterday's European Champions League Final, you might also have missed that Giggs reportedly tried to sue thousands of tweeters who revealed some slightly humiliating information about him.

Giggs is one of many wealthy--but, perhaps, not ultimately wise--British people who took out a so-called superinjunction preventing a woman from publicly revealing details of a personal relationship with the married player.

What resulted was that thousands of tweeters--some famous, some not--took to Twitter to reveal his name, until, ultimately, a member of the U.K. parliament decided to make it official by standing up and blurting it ou tloud. (U.K. MPs can say what they want in the confines of their quaint little chamber.)

The question is whether Giggs--and anyone else who feels that they have been illegally besmirched on Twitter--will now go through with the idea of simultaneously suing tens of thousands of people, something that would surely make a fine subject for the next John Grisham novel.

 

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