Monday, 9 May 2011

How Twitter put the focus on super-injunctions

Jemima Khan and the super-injunctions.

When Jemima Khan tweeted a denial that she had taken out a super-injunction to suppress pictures of herself with Jeremy Clarkson, she unwittingly poured petrol on the flames of the growing row over how Twitter is being used to get round gagging orders being taken out by the rich and famous.

Her first tweet at the weekend ran: "OMG - Rumour that I have a super injunction preventing publication of "intimate" photos of me and Jeremy Clarkson. NOT TRUE!"

Then: "I have no super injunction and I had dinner with Jeremy and his wife last night. Twitter, Stop!" On Monday morning, she tweeted again: "I've woken up trapped in a bloody nightmare."

By then, she was responding to stories in newspapers and other media - including BBC News - that a Twitter user had named several stars that had taken out super-injunctions.

The Daily Mail splashed the story on its front page: "Gagging law stars 'outed' on Twitter: Thousands see the names of celebrities alleged to have taken out injunctions."

The Daily Telegraph printed pictures of Khan and Clarkson on its front page under the headline "Gagging order? Not me, says Jemima."

Some experts professed surprise that the naming of super-injunction stars had suddenly become such a big story.

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones, on his personal Twitter feed, wrote: "Rather weird that Twitter has been alive with super-injunction details for weeks - but one new account with inaccurate reports is news."

This was picked up in turn by Roy Greenslade in his Guardian blog: "The sudden discovery that the names of various people whose identities are protected by injunctions are available on Twitter is baffling. Names - some accurate, many inaccurate - have been flying around the net for weeks."


Two factors brought the gagging orders story to the fore: A concerted attempt by one Twitter follower to pull together several of the names in a short burst of tweets.

And the fact that Jemima Khan denied it, allowing the wider media - newspapers and broadcasters - to peg the story on a known celebrity (albeit one who was wrongly named).

Read More on the BBC:

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