Twitter just gave into pressure from British councillors to release the private information of users who made some allegedly libelous tweets. This is a landmark case in the already-messy realm of online free speech and privacy.
The case had to do with five Twitter users, @fatcouncillor, @cllrdavidpotts, @councillorahmedkhan, @councillorkhan and @ahmedkhan01, and was made by councillors in the town of South Tyneside. They were brought in by Ryan Giggs, one very famous player for Manchester United, to investigate claims by a Mr. Monkey, an anonymous whistleblower, that he was the holder of an injunction to protect his own personal information. The suit itself cost a pretty penny, too, having the lawyers come all the way out to California in order to address Twitter personally.
Twitter has, up to now, been resistant to releasing the account details of its users, but has also stated that it would comply with legal requests. Twitter complied with their complaint and chose to release the names, location data, and and email addresses of the people accused. Their decision begs not a few questions, particularly: Can we expect that much more litigious lawsuits based on Twitter libel? and; How much should we be watching our tweets from now on?