The law’s race to keep up with technology

Whether we’re reading about the same-sex marriage laws being passed in Iowa from @DMRegister or snickering at the fact that President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass,” from some ABC News employees. Twitter is keeping us on our toes–but we’re not the only ones.

As journalists are lining up in the technology race–wanting to be the quickest and most media-savvy–the law is trying to keep up as well. So @sockington the cat and @levarburton, as well as @shitmydadsays–and even you, should think twice before you Twitter. That’s right–friends don’t let friends Twitter drunk–or when they’re angry.

This advice would have been nice for rocker-girl Courtney Love to know, as fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir is now suing her for libel after she (Love) tweeted several derogatory comments about the designer. Apparently the dispute was sparked over how much Love should pay Simorangkir for her designs. Although Love’s Twitter page is now in retirement, one can understand Simorangkir being upset, especially to tweets saying she had a “history of dealing cocaine.” Love sure went for the win on that one–people, think twice before you tweet–especially if you’re a journalist.

But what if you’re just angry with your landlord and want to just vent to all of your followers? Well, think again, as this is exactly what Amanda Bonnen, a woman from Illinois decided to do when she logged on to tweet: “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay.” The result? The company is now seeking $50,000 in damages–that is one pricey tweet. Read more about these cases and the future of Internet and the law at CNN.

Just like the laws against music-sharing and illegal downloading didn’t really hit the scene until well after everyone knew about Napster, the law is racing to keep up with Twitter. What do you think about this? Have you ever been called out on a tweet?

And in other news, one of the co-creators of Twitter, Dom Sagolla, created a style guide on how to make the most out of your social media messages.

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5 responses to “The law’s race to keep up with technology

  1. Communications law is evolving so quickly and is being faced with so many new and unprecedented cases right now, and I find it super fascinating.

    This is definitely stuff I’ve wondered about. Can a Facebook status be libelous? Can tweets be used as an explanation for not hiring you?

    There’s also something the CNN story mentions that I’ve thought about a lot, but feel strange bringing up: the passing down of digital commodities such as usernames, passwords, etc. But to me, this means something different than iTunes accounts. Three years ago, a student at my high school was killed in a car accident. His Facebook profile is still up and running.

    I don’t know whether I find it heartwarming and sweet that people still write on his wall, or somehow disrespectful and creepy.

    • Wow. That really is a tough subject to bring up. In my opinion I think that after one passes away, social media pages like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter should be terminated. I’m not saying this to be insensitive, but I do feel that to hand over passwords to close ones after an individual passes is problematic. There’s a privacy issue there. And also, I feel like a lot of this is just a very touchy subject. Can you really ask someone’s mother to go track down the Facebook page of their child who has passed away? I don’t exactly know what will happen with these sites with sad occurrences such as death. It makes me sad and I feel like it is none of my business to interfere.

  2. This is funny. Leave it to Courtney Love to get sued over a tweet. And, no, I have never actually tweeted drunk, angry or in any other emotional or uninhibited distress. I keep Twitter “strictly business” just to save face. God forbid I should pull a Courtney Love and get sued by a disgruntled designer. Not that that would ever happen in Matty World, but then again… you never know. And, dear friends, you can never be too careful!

  3. That is so interesting how the law has to change to incorporate all the new media technology. I mean it makes sense. If the world is going to take Twitter seriously enough to use it for breaking news, then making libelous comments must be possible. It is not practical to think you can simply vent to your followers about anything. It’s silly and you’re just asking for attention. If you want to vent, call a friend.

  4. Social media can definitely have negative consequences. You have to be super careful about what you say and do online. Not only are people going to see it, it’s going to stay online forever. It’s hard to hide things you say or do online when you’re upset months after you did it. Check out my post about the Facebook pictures that could lead to a criminal investigation. It kind of touches on a similar issue.

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