Today’s filter-less stars stay getting scolded for reckless tweets. But when can gangsta Twitter activity lead to more than a whack on the wrist? Entertainment and sports attorney Chris Cabbott breaks down how digital goons can tweet above the law
VIBE: Celebrity tweets can and have been used against them, but can sending a blasphemous post land someone in the pen?
Cabbott: The first thing celebrities, or anybody, has to remember about Twitter is that it’s public record. Any tweet, any photos you put out can be used as defamation. There are two types of defamation: libel and slander. Libel is written. Slander is spoken. If you’re putting out false things about people on Twitter, anyone following you can file instant defamation suits.
Even if it’s tweeted and deleted?
If it’s a legal concern, it’s already too late. It’s still stored in the Library of Congress as public record... Mac Miller tweeted that he tried to reach out to Lord Finesse [about sampling a record] when he heard Finesse had a problem initially. That, in and of itself, is kind of an admission on Mac’s behalf that he used the sample without any copyright clearance, so that can come back to bite him.
Do subliminal tweets hold any legal weight?
If it’s subliminal, that can be circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is tweeting to someone: “I’m going to kill you.” With subliminal tweets, you can say the last couple of tweets were about this, this and this. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen about Chris Brown and Rihanna sub-tweeting each other.
Do different countries have crueler penalties?
It all comes down to federal law. A Greek track athlete [Voula Papachristou] tweeted something that had a racist undertone and was expelled from the [London Olympics]. Every country has its own set of rules that apply to Internet usage.
Are restraining orders starting to include social networking clauses?
Absolutely. If someone tweets you once, it is what it is. If it becomes a continuous thing and people are re-tweeting, you can see how something can rise to a level of harassment, to the point where you have to go to court. A judge tries to prevent that harassment, which means stopping any contact. Twitter would be an obvious example of that.