Friday, November 30, 2012

Social Media and Freedom of Expression

"C. Limitation of Liability
From Twitter`s Terms of Service

Who thinks that a 140 character expression that shared with friends can cost you $50000? That is what almost happened to Amanda Bonnen. She shared a tweet on May 12, 2009, to her friends that said, “You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Group Management thinks it's ok.” . Horizon has claimed the tweet was "published throughout the world" and has severely damaged its good name.Horizon sued her for at least $50000 ( Amanda had 20 followers at that time. Luckily, the tweet was deemed "too vague" by a Cook County judge-causing the defamation suit to be thrown out. The realty group's lawyer told they are now discussing their legal options. ( As a note, twitter deleted her account without waiting the result of the legal proceeding.

On the twitter side, there are the terms of service rules usually were not read by the users. As seen top of the column that quoted from twitters terms of use twitter declares it has nearly no responsibility in terms of this kind of issues especially related to legal conflicts.( It is not only twitter, the other social media networks` "terms of service" includes these kind of expressions.

This proceeding is not the only one of its kind. There are many examples in several countries and from different social networks like You tube and Facebook. We have to ask what is the borders of freedom of expression and infringement of privacy or insult juristically. Also it has to be asked in reality the social networks innocent totally.

Evidently, there are no differences between cyber-world and the real world in terms of legal responsibility but somehow people tend to act devil-may-care attitude. It is psychological from my standpoint. It resembles the attitude to use credit card instead cash. People use credit cards more carelessly. Also people cares and differentiates what and how they speak in friend and formal areas. They announce their expressions careful. Social media is not only a circle of friends but also a publicly "medium". Under this terms the "140 characters" might return to criminal offense.

Be careful!!!

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