What not to do on twitter

By on February 26, 2013

Look out for 10 risks when tweeting.

Twitter is now an accepted business communication channel for many organisations. Whether engaging with customers, building a community, dealing with complaints or distributing news both companies and managers are using it on a daily (or even hourly) basis. But what are the top ten legal risks you need to be aware of when it comes to tweeting?

Defamatory Tweets

Defamation law protects a person’s reputation, and it is an offence to communicate defamatory remarks. The test: If a tweet lowers a person’s standing ‘in the estimation of right-thinking members of society’ it will breach libel laws.

Malicious Tweets

Tweets made within the intention of damaging another’s business, goods or services through false statements, or which are reckless with the truth will break the law. A maliciously false tweet could result in a claim for damages for loss and for further compensation for causing distress and ‘hurt feelings. The test: Does the tweet have the intent to injure another’s commercial interests, or display recklessness as to the truth?

Deceptive Tweets (and other misrepresentations)

A tweet containing a false statement that induces another person to act on it. The test: Is the tweet deceptive in nature or likely to deceive?

Impersonating Tweets

An impersonator who opens a Twitter account could be exposed to a claim for fraud if the person who has been impersonated suffers loss or damage as a result. The test: Are you providing a misleading or untrue representation as to a person’s identity on Twitter?

Threatening Tweets

A tweet could amount to an assault if the person to whom it was directed has a genuine belief that physical harm is imminent as may a series of tweets which cause psychological damage. The test: Is there an intention to cause harm or intimidation?

Branded Tweets and Hashtags

Hashtags are extremely useful in allowing users to monitor relevant conversations taking place on Twitter. There is a risk, however, that combining a hashtag with the trade mark of another person could result in trade mark infringement. The test: Does the use of a hashtag create a likelihood of association or confusion with the products or services of a trade mark owner?


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