Libel laws in the UK are known to be quite draconian. More often than not, UK courts will opt to censor information, true or false, that could be damaging to someone's reputation. In most cases, the info is true, but the press is not allowed to report on it.This is becoming harder and harder to do as more and more people "publish" their thoughts, ideas and news on Facebook, Twitter, and so on.
Few people give a second thought to what they say on Twitter, but that may change. The case of the man who faced a prison term for jokingly threatening to blow up an airport due to a delayed flight may only be the beginning.
Earlier this month, the BBC ran a story that seemed to imply that Lord Alistair McAlpine, a Conservative Party official, was linked to a child sex abuse scandal.
The BBC didn't name him, but his name was at one point visible in a list of Conservative Party members allegedly involved. The report turned out to be false and McAlpine is not happy.
He's already settled with the BBC and other news organizations that ran the story, earning several hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process.
But he's also going after Twitter users who, understandably, didn't restrain themselves from naming him, like the BBC did. His lawyers have round up some 20 "high-profile" Twitter users who they plan to sue for libel.
In theory, they could go after the thousands that retweeted the story or made their own comments.
He hasn't actually sued any Twitter user yet, but the possibility is real. What's more, it's very likely that anyone involved will be found guilty. This doesn't bode well for any Twitter user in the UK, but the country has much stricter laws on the matter, so it would hardly be surprising.