Defamation cases used to focus primarily on broadcasters and newspapers – until social media changed everything

Careless tweeting costs money, so beware. That is the message coming from the courts, which over recent years have had to deal with the “Twibel” cases that have arisen from potentially libellous posts made on social media.

Where defamation cases once concerned broadcasters and newspapers, many today involve social media. One of the first big Twibel cases was taken by the Conservative peer Lord McAlpine against Sally Bercow, the wife of the House of Commons speaker, John Bercow. Following a 2012 report by BBC Newsnight linking an unnamed senior Conservative politician to historic child sex abuse claims, Bercow tweeted: “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*.”

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