Trial By Twitter: Is Calling Someone A Pedophile Going Too Far?

Everyone knows pedophiles are horrible people – and Anonymous did an excellent job of ‘outing’ some of them not too long ago.

But unless you are 100% sure that someone deserves this label, tossing the word around is not only horribly mean, it can lead to defamation charges – as some folks in the UK are apparently about to find out.

Lord McAplsine, former Tory party treasurer, is taking on folks who think they can put innocent people on ‘trial by Twitter.’ He’s ticked and it seems he has a good reason.

According to the Daily Mail, McAlpine was “wrongly accused of being a child abuser following a botched Newsnight report.” And the BBC is now paying him a £185,000 compensation settlement as a result.

As The New York Times reports, “Although not named in the report, he was identified in a way that quickly led to his being named on the Internet as a pedophile who preyed on boys in a children’s home in north Wales 30 years ago.”

The BBC acknowledged the error, but not before McAlpine’s name was tweeted and retweeted apparently, leaving McAlpine fearing for his safety and forever damaging the man’s reputation.

And if you think that’s an exaggeration, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there are thousands of folks involved (on Twitter) who could be facing some sort of legal action for tweeting about him in connection with these allegations.

There are quite a few folks ticked off about McAlpine’s legal response though, saying it flies in the face of free speech – or that it’s a bit over the top (or both):

What do you think? Should folks be a bit more cautious about such things, or is this much ado about nothing?

(Frustrated man image from Shutterstock)