Is Twitter destroying celebrities' privacy or eradicating censorship once and for all?
For the answer, we turn to the UK, which has been gripped with a #superinjunction craze this past week. In the UK, celebrities sometimes go to court to get "super injunctions," otherwise known as gag orders, against tabloids intent on publishing private details like affairs with prostitutes. But now that individuals can be citizen-journalists via access to open communication channels like Twitter and Facebook, the idea that courts have the power to restrict information is under threat.
According to Experian Hitwise, a web measurement firm, one in every 200 UK web visits last week was to Twitter.com as citizens in the country attempted to solve which celebrities had been granted gag orders that protected the revelation of secret affairs.
The phenomenon started after a newspaper chain in the UK was subject to a super injunction that prevented a report about a married Premiership footballer who allegedly had an affair with Imogen Thomas, a former contestant on Big Brother. It also emerged that an actor had obtained a gag order preventing news he had an affair with a prostitute. There were two other super injunctions involving public figures granted, and soon, speculation turned to the involvement of Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson, rumored to be holding the lid on intimate pictures between him and a socialite.
Soon, UK citizens were burning up social media. Traffic at Twitter was reported to be up 14 percent.
Now, all the noise is opening up questions about who is liable for violating court orders.
Danvers Baillieu, a social media specialist lawyer at Pinsent Masons told The Telegraph that that anyone who tweeted or re-tweeted court-protected info may be held in contempt. Twitter isn't commenting yet, but Baillieu points out that Twitter rules forbid users from using the service "for any unlawful purposes."
It might not matter.
"Twitter has been quite happy in the past when they have disagreed with the laws of a country to disregard this particular rule that they have set," said Baillieu.
Death of the celebrity super injunction?