The twittersphere is all a-twitter about a company suing a woman for $50,000 over one of her tweets. The offending tweet from @abonnen to her 20 followers was:
…who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.
Most reactions to the news seem to be centered around the idea of “it’s just a tweet / lighten up”.
OK. Using that same mindset, then…
- United Breaks Guitars is just a YouTube video.
- ComcastMustDie is just a blog.
- #MotrinMoms is just a hashtag
If we’re all going join hands in a circle and get weepy over the fact that “everyone is now a publisher”, then everyone is now accountable to established publishing laws. This tweet may violate a little one called libel.
Ask yourself this: If a newspaper or TV station reported without justification that a local landlord condoned their tenants sleeping in mold infested apartments, would the company be justified in suing the media outlet? If you think so, then how is “new media” different than “old media”?
I have no idea (and don’t care) about the specifics of this case. Maybe @abonnen was sleeping in a petri dish. Maybe the company was attacked unfairly. (although I do find it hard to side with any company that describes it’s business philosophy as “sue first and ask questions later“)
But here’s the big point that everyone needs to think about. We’re going to have to decide does consumer generated media mean “fundamental groundbreaking change” or “just a tweet”?