Twitter Campaign Wins Victory for Free Speech

by Ella FAIRCHILD on October 16, 2009

Twitter, the social networking phenomenon, has been in the press over the last few years in various ways.  Since the site was launched it seems as though people have found new and innovative ways to use the site to promote themselves, their business, or a cause.  Twitter was used heavily during Iran when the media was shut down due to continued protests.  Athletes and celebrities have used the site to communicate directly with fans, and most recently the Guardian newspaper was able to use the site to circumvent an injunction that prevented the newspaper from reporting on a Parliamentary debate.

Legislation surrounding the use of Twitter has not been able to keep up with the growing phenomenon which seems to change daily.  Reporters have been using Twitter to break stories as it offers an immediacy and urgency that trumps even the internet.  This is why a campaign led by Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger was able to successfully call into question the injunction which prevented the Guardian from reporting on Parliamentary news.

The controversy started when the Guardian was ordered not to report on a story involving Trafigura Ltd. an oil and gas company which was accused of dumping toxic chemicals in the Ivory Coast.  The law prevented the Guardian from even reporting on a question that was asked about the company during a Parliamentary proceeding.
However, after the successful Twitter campaign the law firm representing Trafigura changed the gag order to allow the Guardian to report on the event without being in violation of the law.

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