The internet, or social media to be more precise, has garnered some enemies recently. Its biggest enemy is Ryan Giggs, who was sensationally unmasked by David Hemming MP as being the premiership footballer behind the now infamous injunction over his affair with an ex-Big Brother contestant – the worst kept secret in cyberspace, thanks to Twitter.
Ryan Giggs unceremoniously failed to gag the media and it would seem he was pretty naive to think only the tabloids were the only media source he had to worry about. When it comes to sleazy details about a footballer’s private life, the press relish the sensationalism these details would bring to their headlines. However, because of his ‘family man’ reputation, the Giggs story was too good not to spread and thousands of Tweeters took to posting his name – if it had been Mr Rooney, the story would have barely raised an eyebrow.
A legal mess ensued as word spread online that it was him who was the ‘family man’ footballer who’d had an affair. Ryan Giggs is now suing Twitter – his lawyer said in court that people naming him on Twitter was a violation and that the social networking site, although a US company, should follow UK law.
Mr Giggs may have some powerful allies on his quest for a knuckle down on free speech. In the US, an alliance among government, the entertainment industry and the broadband data providers is emerging. They are claiming the absolute need to be rid of such things as copyright infringement and WikiLeaks-style disclosures, and they are concocting legislation that would have a huge clamp down on free speech. President Obama himself has made common cause with the people who want to turn the internet into a more interactive form of cable television and not much more.
Over in Europe, President Sarkozy will be hosting the G8 forum in Paris titled, The Internet: Accelerating Growth, and he will be using the conference to push for harder controls over the internet and how it can be used.
The power of social media has been shown like never before over the past two weeks. People with power and money have now faced something they cannot take control of, no matter how much money they throw at it. It will be interesting to see what happens next and if the days of freely posting as you wish on Twitter and Facebook will just be a distant memory.