Celebrity Privacy Scandal: What Really Made Twitter’s Biggest Day in the UK?

This week, Twitter exploded in the United Kingdom. On May 9, Twitter saw more traffic in the UK than ever before in history, with a 14% increase in traffic on that day alone. The flood of Twitter visitors had nothing to do with the Brits’ Royal Wedding tweets or the globally popular #PrayForJustin tweets, but something a little more controversial and a lot more sacred: the right to privacy.

Essentially, people were visiting Twitter because of the celebrity super-injunction scandal — a certain Twitter user was tweeting about which celebrities had filed gag orders about certain pieces of their lives — like intimate photos — to the press. People were rushing to the site to read tweets about which celebrities may have these super-injunctions so as to see which public figures might have the juiciest secrets.

According to the The Telegraph, Twitter has not made any official move about removing the tweets; technically, UK law says that it is illegal to reveal this kind of super-injunction information, and Twitter also has a policy against tweets with illegal content. But the site hasn’t received an official legal charge about the matter, and has not preempted one by responding in advance.

For the last few days, Jemima Khan, a famous British writer, has been making multiple tweet references to the super-injunction trial, since the tweets in question claimed that she had a super-injunction protecting intimate photos of her and her friend Jeremy Clarkson.

So what really made people go ga-ga for Twitter on Monday?

Sure, internet users wanted to find out which celebrities had secrets worth legal protection, but there’s also the drama of Twitter itself. Twitter is, lots of the time, a primary source. It’s a chance to see people publish their own opinions, unfiltered by journalist narrators, and it plays out in real time. Anyone is liable to tweet at any moment, which is of course how rumors get started, but also how news gets spread. Twitter gives us the chance to see people defend themselves individually, in their own short-form voices. We also get to hear what other people are thinking about these topics without having to scroll down to the bottom of a news article to read comments or click on the “thumbs up” sign to see exactly who of your Facebook friends “liked” something.

One in every 200 websites that UK internet users visited on Monday was Twitter. What scandal do you think will break the next Twitter traffic record?