In an interesting turn of events, Twitter is not in court or being served with court orders to hand over user data.
One enterprising legal team in a Malaysian defamation case (perpetrated on Twitter) has come up with a more constructive use for the social-networking site. Instead of tedious court battles, they have decided to use Twitter as the solution to the problem.
Fahmi Fadzil, a social activist and commentator, claimed in a tweet in January that a pregnant friend of his had been treated badly by her employers at Female Magazine — owned by Blu Inc Media. The magazine owners then threatened legal action against Fadzil, but by March both parties had agreed to take the matter out of court and into the Twittersphere.
Under the agreement Fadzil was ordered to get down on his virtual knees and tweet “I’ve DEFAMED Blu Inc Media and Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR Policies are untrue. I retract those words and hereby apologise” 100 times in the space of three days.
The gruelling regime of tweeting began on Thursday and will see Fadzil averaging about one sincerely apologetic tweet every 35 minutes — quite reminiscent of the school punishment that requires you to write apologies on a blackboard over and over again. This is the first time someone has been sentenced to community service on Twitter.
While the agreement was reached because Fadzil couldn’t afford to place an apology in a newspaper, it is also probably closer to the punishment fitting the “crime” than the ruling of any court-mandated judge.