Tweets take on legal significance

The former Indian Premier League commissioner, Lalit Modi, is one of the most interesting and divisive figures in cricket today.  He also tweets regularly, and not too long ago stated that New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns fixes matches on his twitter.  
    
Granted, Cairns was going be angry; few predicted he would sue Modi over the incident, however, because Twitter is not considered that seriously in a legal sense.  Mr Justice Tugendhat, a generally excellent libel judge much respected by IBB Solicitors, needed to seek advice from various specialists on what exactly Twitter was before he allowed the case to proceed.  
    
At present, the chances of being held legally accountable for a tweet are getting higher by the day.  Gareth Compton, a Birmingham councillor, tweeted a “glib comment” about an independent columnist in which he stated in response to criticism from the said journalist “can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.”
    
Afua Hirsch, in her legal blog for the Guardian, writes that police put him in jail on charges of incitement to murder.  Pretty career ruining stuff, and it is hard to think that Mr Compton would really have tried to convince people to murder a journalist on Twitter; if for no other reason than it makes the prosecution’s job significantly easier.  
    
There are considerable issues with holding individuals legally responsible for literally what they tweet, and they are related to the difficulties of conversation that trouble every person who interacts on the internet.  Internet communication lacks situational context, tone of voice, facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact which means that deciding the precise meaning of a tweet can be difficult.   
    
Or at the very least, it can be tough to set up objective, legal criteria for figuring out what is meant by text found online.  These standards will be created simply out of necessity as mediums like Twitter become more popular.  Until that day, IBB Solicitors be mindful not to tweet anything that could get you arrested.  

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