Twitter is a broadcast platform like radio or TV and if you use it irresponsibly, some believe you should pay a price. That’s why a U.K. man is paying £15,000 (about $25,000) after he retweeted a claim that wrongly identified a British lord as a child molester.
“From my own experience, I am able to warn others of the dangers of retweeting,” said Alan Davies, after paying up to settle a lawsuit after the lord accused Davies of defamation. The lord is also targeting about 20 more of the 10,000 or so people who tweeted or retweeted the false accusation.
So is Davies’ punishment fair? In some ways, yes: after all, how would you feel if hundreds of people tweeted you were a child molester? But on the other hand, the penalty is harsh. It only takes one click to retweet something, and Twitter is a spontaneous form of media — meaning that most regular Twitter users have probably retweeted misinformation at one point or another.
Davis may have shown bad judgment in retweeting something so serious (especially as the retweet came in response to a question he put to Twitter) but a full blown libel case seems excessive — and...