Courtney Love’s Landmark ‘Twibel’ Case and the Potential Impact on Social Media Policy


Courtney Love

Courtney Love

As Courtney Love took the stand in a California defamation suit yesterday, she made history as the first person to go to trial to defend herself against charges of libel on social media—an act known as “Twibel.”

For PR pros, it’s time to add the new word to their lexicon and, more important, social media policies.

Love, who is no stranger to courtrooms, has had history of trouble on Twitter, leading the singer’s daughter to recommend that she be banned from the site in 2012. The latest episode revolves around a tweet supposedly defaming Love’s former lawyer, Rhonda Holmes, whom Love hired in 2008 to settle issues stemming from a fraud case against those managing the estate of her late husband, Kurt Cobain.

In the offending tweet, Love claims that Holmes had been “bought off,” a claim the lawyer—as a professional who relies her reputation—took very seriously.

The law against libel, defined as defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words, originated in 17th century England, and Love’s trial represents its most recent update.

If Love is penalized, what one organization considers a harmless jibe against another could be construed as defamation—and punished accordingly.

Companies, specifically more starched corporations that are just getting comfortable with outlets like Twitter, might begin to shun borderline tweets, taking away from the casual, playful environment of social media. And they will have to decide who would be legally responsible for those tweets should they provoke legal action. Time to update your social media playbook.

The case is expected to go to the jury on Thursday or Friday.

What do you think the ramifications for communicators might be?

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene


Comments Off



Deals of the Week

$150 Off PR News' Social Media Summit

socialmedia201602-180x150Join PR News in Huntington Beach, CA on Feb. 26 for the Social Media Summit, where you'll be immersed in real-world, tactical case studies from brands, nonprofits and agencies and get takeaways in pulling and analyzing social media data; emerging social platforms and apps and so much more. 

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 o the regular rate.

$50 off the CSR & Green PR Guidebook

csr_vol7_print_digital-thumbPR News’ CSR & Green PR Guidebook, Vol. 7 captures best practices in communicating the positive relationships that organizations are building with their communities of interest. This six-chapter guidebook connects the dots between the effective communication of positive social contributions and corresponding improvements in bottom lines.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

cover5.18

 

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.