Twitter’s South Tyneside case won’t help Giggs

Following a Court Order, Twitter inc handed over details of the owners of Twitter accounts to South Tyneside Council.

The Sunday Telegraph wrote this up with the headline:

“Twitter reveals secrets: Details of British users handed over in landmark case that could help Ryan Giggs”

A similarly excited tone was taken by the guests on on Sky News’ Murnaghan programme this morning.

I’m pretty sure that the media are getting this completely wrong and want to look at the differences between the South Tyneside case and the Giggs case – or indeed, any of the privacy superinjunctions.

The South Tyneside case in brief

I don’t want to spend any time on the wisdom of South Tyneside Council bringing this case. Briefly, councillors on South Tyneside council believed that they were being libelled on Twitter and on blogs by others, including some other councillors. Acting for the allegedly-libelled councillors, South Tyneside Council brought a case in a California court to order Twitter to hand over information about five Twitter accounts linked to the alleged libel.

What has been handed over?

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Getting round Facebook’s one-paragraph limit for comments.

Changes to Facebook comments today took away the ‘Post’ button. Instead, pressing Enter posts your comment automatically. This means your comments can’t have paragraph breaks, which is ugly and annoying, especially if you have a lot to say.

As a Twitter user, I know that short can be beautiful. But it’s not the only way. Often, long well-reasoned discussions on Facebook can be fascinating and informative. This change seems to be designed to prevent them.

But there’s a workaround. Instead of Enter, push shift-Enter. This is the ‘new line’ command, which will put the cursor on a new line without automatically posting the comment.

Shift-Enter works in lots of useful ways, especially when you don’t want to start a new paragraph in Microsoft Word.