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Friday, November 09, 2012

Thank God there was no Twitter when the last baseless rumours were around

Just over twenty years ago a prominent figure in British life was the victim of an unexplained act of violence. In the absence of an explanation a story quickly spread among people who apparently had some inside knowledge of the incident because they worked in what was then called "the media". 

I heard more than one version of this story which involved a reference to sexual abuse and children. That's probably what helped the story spread so quickly. I was assured that it would be just days before this story was "all over the papers".

I'm still waiting. A subsequent court case proved the rumours groundless.  Probably not before the prominent figure and his family had got to hear about them. He must look back on it now and thank God there was no Twitter at the time. 

On Twitter people who really ought to know better, and are often familiar with the laws regarding defamation, publish things they would never dream of publishing in a newspaper or on a TV programme. This is on the grounds that the story is "out there" and in the awareness/hope that they will somehow bully the victim of the rumours into coming out to defend themselves.

They pretend that they're doing it to campaign for the victims and to respond to the public's concern. They're not. They're doing it out of personal ambition and malice. Mostly the latter.