Can you get sued for a Tweet? Courtney Love and the future of the internet

What role does she play in the future of the internet?

We all knew it would come to this some day. We probably didn’t know it would involve Courtney Love, but that seems somewhat appropriate. You see, Love is being sued. Nothing new there, right? Well, what is new is that could have serious ramifications well beyond a celebrity spat. Courtney love is the first person being sued for a tweet she made on twitter.

You see, back in 2009, fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir wanted Love to pay her a few thousand dollars for clothes and the singer wasn’t impressed to say the least. She went on a tirade via Twitter and other social media platforms calling Simorangkir a “drug pushing prostitute” among other things.

Love had roughly 40 000 followers at the time (now it’s over 90 000) and many of them re-tweeted her comments. In response, Simorangkir is now suing Love for defamation, claiming these posts ruined her career, while Love’s lawyers are preparing to argue that the Hole front-woman mental state at the time wasn’t malicious.

Regardless of the state of anyone’s mind or career, the outcome of this case could mean something for anyone who expresses their opinion online. While traditional corporate media outlets have been susceptible to lawsuits for years and caved many times out of fear of lost profits or ad revenues, the internet has largely been a space for people to freely say what they want.

Now all that may change and this could be very bad.

What happens, say, when someone or a group of people use Twitter to mobilize a protest or temporarily take down a website to prove a point and the US government wants their info? Oh wait, that already happened…twice.

During the 2008 Republican convention, protesters tweeted cop movements and were later arrested. More recently, the US government ordered Twitter to turn over the personal info of those who run the Wikileaks Twitter account.

So actually, the freedoms enjoyed largely because of the person-to-person origins of the net have been under attack for a while, with no sign that it will stop. Soon the principle of Net Neutrality may no longer apply to mobile devices, furthering the transformation of the web into a corporate-controlled medium.

While a silly celebrity case like this one may not seem close to the importance of the changes already happening, it is the official test of how people can use the internet to communicate. No matter what happens, this case will set a legal precedent: Is the web a grounds for conversation and open expression? or Another corporate platform where everything can be regulated the same way as a newspaper?

Love her or hate her, in this case we can only hope that Courtney Love prevails.

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