The decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat in McAlpine v Bercow  EWHC 1342 (QB) (24 May 2013) [“McAlpine”] is a stern admonition to Twitter users about the perils of practising comedy without a license.
Seriously, in my view, the UK court’s judgment will have a chilling effect on free speech on Twitter and will likely devolve into an era of social media self-censorship for Twitter users, particularly in the UK. A form of libel chill, or, perhaps “Twitter Chill”.
It also highlights the legal chasm that exists between the American and UK judicial approaches to balancing freedom of expression and protecting reputation. The decision also raises the spectre of a “popularity metric” to determine whether the alleged maker or republisher of the defamatory tweet has gazillions of followers or is just some shlub with 4 followers, three of which are porn bots. (more…)