A couple of years ago nobody would know what you were talking
about if you warned them to be careful what they tweet, blog, text
or post on Facebook.
Go back a few more years and sending via email was a
Many of us still don't have a clue what they all are. But a
growing number do and it is rapidly becoming clear we have to be
careful what we say on these new methods of communication.
In recent months there have been some landmark legal
developments that have a huge impact on how we all use social
It was reported a prominent author had to pay about $13,000 to
settle a legal defamation case after she'd used her blog to
falsely accuse another blogger of being the person who had posted a
hate message directed at her.
She was part of a campaign by female bloggers to expose the
extent of anonymous hate mail they receive over the internet. But
she'd accused the wrong blogger and found herself at the end of
a law suit.
The case illustrates an ugly side to the new media –
the high level of abusive and hate filled language as well bullying
and threatening messages.
Usually the abusive writer hides behind a pseudonym. It's
hard to find out who they are. United States providers argue
it's free speech and they're not responsible.
But in Australia an internet provider such as Google can be
described as a "re-publisher" and may be held liable for
a defamation they carry if they've been warned about it.
A Queensland court has ordered Google to reveal the identity of
a person behind a blog who'd called someone a "thieving
scumbag". Other courts have ordered providers to reveal the
identity of people who'd made nasty comments on news and travel
Instantly tweeting what comes into one's head, particularly
when under the weather, has got loads of people into trouble.
Similarly, how many times have we sent emails only to realise
seconds later we'd said something we'd regret, or worse,
sent it to the boss or a spouse.
It makes sense to think twice before you tweet or post in the
heat of the moment. You can even set up an option on your email
account to delay the sending by a few minutes which gives you
precious time to think it over.
Remember, nothing is truly secret when it goes out over
electronic communications. Two British men were refused entry to
the United States recently after one tweeted to a friend they were
going to "destroy America". The men said they only meant
they were going to "party and get trashed". US global
communication monitoring had picked up the key words and officials
deemed them a threat.
The simple solution is to think twice before you send once.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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