Monday, October 11, 2010

The Right to Offend: Controversial Tweets

The New York Times reported on tweet cases:
In some cases, the payback is extreme: Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association, was fined $25,000 for criticizing a referee in a tweet after a game.

Blogs, of course, have long been rife with the discontented heaping abuse on foes. But academics and researchers who study online attitudes say that same behavior has been less common on Twitter, in part, because many people use their real names. Now it is migrating to the service, attracting lawsuits and leaving users to haggle among themselves about what will be tolerated.

Complicating matters, there are few prescribed social norms on Twitter like those in more closed communities like Facebook. The service has attained mass popularity without much time to develop an organic users’ culture. On top of that, with tweets limited to 140 characters, users come right to the point without context or nuance.

“It’s the same reason why schoolyard fights don’t start out with, ‘I have a real problem with the way you said something so let’s discuss it,’ ” said Josh Bernoff, a researcher and an author of “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.” “You get right to the punch in the nose. Twitter doesn’t allow room for reflection. It gets people to the barest emotion.”


Bryan Freedman is the lawyer in Los Angeles who is representing Dawn Simorangkir, a designer who markets clothes under the Boudoir Queen label, and who sued Ms. Love for libel in March. The lawsuit contends that Ms. Love “became infatuated” with the designer, asking her to create costumes using vintage material the singer owned.

When Ms. Simorangkir asked to be paid, Ms. Love balked at the price. Ms. Simorangkir, in return, refused to return Ms. Love’s vintage material, according to legal documents filed by Ms. Love’s lawyers. The singer accused the designer of being a liar and thief (among other things) in a number of rambling, misspelled tweets.

“You will end up in a circle of corched eaeth hunted til your dead,” read one tweet from Ms. Love in March.

I don't know about you, but having to read all her typos might prompt me to file a lawsuit for emotional distress.

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