Lord McAlpine has won his libel case against Sally Bercow after the speaker’s wife tweeted about allegations against him.
It marks the end of an era on Twitter when for a few years ago anything went and people seemed to be able to say anything they wanted about anyone else.
For quite some time it’s been astonishing what people could get away with online and there was a feeling that the internet was somehow going to be different – beyond the law and full of half truths and rumour that passed as fact. A digital gossip site in many ways, with the kind of things getting flashed up that no-one else could ever get away with.
For a long time Twitter had been a space where people could say what they wanted and it had broken many stories in recent years, far ahead of the print media who had to hold back for fear of getting sued.
People genuinely believed they could say what they wanted, that it was just a glorified pub conversation and that Twitter did not have the same sort of power as the press. Many times I have heard people say that they could say what they liked on Twitter and that there was no law governing it – and up until now this seemed true.
Is decision a good thing? Or a curtailment of freedoms? Should people be able to say what they want on the internet or should there be some sort of control or is this the start of some sort of censorship of the online world?