New rules have been set out for social media in the courtroom, and Twitter is getting a warm welcome. Journalists in the UK can now use Twitter during court proceedings without requesting permission before tweeting.
The Lord Chief Justice, a top UK judge, issued new practice guidance notes specifically for “the use of live text-based forms of communication (including Twitter) from court…”
The guidelines change the rule that phones had to be turned during court proceedings. Now, it states that: “There is… no statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based communications in open court.”
And it goes on to say that representatives of the media or legal commentators may use Twitter or live, text-based communications from within the courtroom, as “…the most obvious purpose of permitting the use of live, text-based communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate reports of the proceedings,” and it wouldn’t interfere with the proper administration of justice.
If a regular member of the public without journalistic credentials wants to use Twitter while in court, they must get permission from the judge in order to do so, as their live-tweeting could possibly interfere with the case.
The guide notes that, while journalists may now use Twitter freely, it must be used as a text-based form of communication only: no photos or sound recordings are allowed in a courtroom. So don’t expect any nice new embedded photos next to live-tweeting about a case.
It’s just six days shy of a year ago that Lord Chief Justice allowed Twitter to be used in the courts for the first time, amid the flurry of activity surrounding the WikiLeaks trial at the time.