30K Twitterers Defy UK Gag Order

British newspapers call situation 'farcical'
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2011 8:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some 30,000 people—and climbing—have tweeted the identity of a soccer player in Britain who, looking to hush up rumors that he had an affair, got a gag order to prevent the media from revealing his name—meaning those Twitterers may now be in breach. It's an increasingly "farcical" situation that shows the impossibility of controlling information in the Information Age, reports the Independent. Things started to heat up on Saturday when a law firm representing the player announced that "an application has been made to obtain limited information concerning the unlawful use of Twitter by a small number of individuals who may have breached a court order," after a journalist reportedly tweeted the player's name.

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That led to re-Tweeting and a flurry of social media reactions until an estimated 30,000 people had broken the injunction, with 900 more tweets being added every hour. Yesterday, Scottish newspaper the Sunday Herald published a front-page photo of the married soccer player, his eyes blacked out behind a black bar reading "censored." It did not name him, but wrote, "Everyone knows this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret." One media consultant said that trying to shut up Twitter was like "pouring petrol on the flames. There are so many people out there talking about it, you might as well say you can't talk on the phone or in the pub about something." The Attorney General's Office says it has no intention of enforcing the ban. "Frankly this is not something we want anything to do with," said a spokesman. (Read more super-injunction stories.)

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