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Will Social Media Kill Off Super-Injunctions?

Super-injunction scandal! We’d better tread carefully now…

Before we get into the deets of this let’s get this straight. We’re not encouraging that you go looking for people protected by a super-injunction, and we definitely wouldn’t recommend you post about people you think might be involved.

Instead, we’re just going to discuss whether there’s any point in super-injunctions when the internet exists.

So so scandalous

“Whenever I hear the word super-injunction I head straight to Twitter!” – Someone on the internet

If you don’t know what a super-injunction is, it’s a fairly controversial part of English law that stops the press from publishing certain stories about certain people. You can read more about the ins and outs of super-injunctions here.

Recently, the media in regions the law affects have been blocked from reporting on a “well known” couple’s involvement in a sex scandal.

The result has been the usual debate over the existence of super-injunctions and their consequences on freedom of speech, what counts as “in the public interest” and why they only seem to protect rich people with shiny toothed PR managers and scary lawyers at their disposal.

Another result has been thousands of mentions of “super-injunction” in the UK alone and lots of people sharing the names of people they believe to be involved in the so-called scandal (risking legal annihilation).

The fact is, despite the English papers not being able to write about the story, journalists in other countries, like Scotland and the US, have been. It isn’t impossible to find out who’s involved in the scandal, despite a lot of effort to stop people doing it. Google even removed links identifying the couple in the UK.

Wanting what you can’t have

It’s fair to say that there’s probably been a lot more of a kerfuffle over the alleged incident because of the super-injunction than there would be if the story was allowed out in the first place.

The case is interesting not because of the “mysterious” details but because it so strongly exhibits the problem of super-injunctions in the age of the internet and social media.

Superinjunction-uk-mentionsSo easy is it to find the alleged names of those involved that the fact that newspapers aren’t allowed to report on the story in the UK doesn’t really matter. In fact, super-injunctions make people more likely to seek the story out.

The story being leaked all over the place, including on social media, has even led judges to say the super-injunction should be lifted. This week has seen the issue escalated to the Supreme Court, who will decide whether it should be lifted or not.

In the unpredictable, free-wheeling Wild West of the internet things like super-injunctions don’t go down very well. There’s nothing like a bit of censorship to get the people of the internet angry and defiant.

Could this be the end of the super-injunction?

Cross-posted from Brandwatch.

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