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UK Tweeters Face Libel Threats Over False Rumors

UK Tweeters Face Libel Threats Over False Rumors

Today in international tech news: A British politician seeks apologies from Twitter users -- or else! Also, Renesas shareholders approve a government bailout, YouTube has a new most-viewed video and French parliament members are caught playing games and ordering wine on their tablets.

As many as 10,000 Twitter users in the United Kingdom face the threat of legal action because of their tweets regarding recent sexual abuse allegations.

According to The New York Times, the tweeters could be in trouble because of comments -- either posted to Twitter or forwarded to other people -- in which they refer to a BBC report that incorrectly linked a former Conservative Party official to sexual abuse of a child. No official was named, but the BBC report contained enough tidbits that people -- lots of them -- were able to out Alistair McAlpine.

The BBC apologized for the fallacious report and promptly settled a libel claim with McAlpine for almost US$300,000.

McAlpine, who also received a settlement from a television station that reported the story, is additionally seeking libel damages from 20 "high-profile tweeters," including a comedian, the wife of the speaker of the House of Commons and a columnist for The Guardian.

That's not all: McAlpine is reportedly going after thousands of other Twitter users who had retweeted people's comments.

Tweeters who think they may have run afoul of McAlpine, but who have fewer than 500 followers, can apologize via a website created by McAlpine's law firm and try to settle their cases that way. Such users will have to read a letter, download a form and answer questions about their tweets.

British courts have a streak of being tough on tweeters. Courts have, for instance, ruled that Twitter can be ordered to turn over personal details of users, although there is no word on whether this has happened in this case. Earlier this year, the High Court in London awarded a New Zealand cricket player nearly $150,000 when an Indian cricket official tweeted that the Kiwi was match-fixing.

Renesas Shareholders Approve Bailout

Shareholders of Japan-based Renesas Electronics have approved a government-led bailout.

According to Reuters, which cites the Nikkei newspaper, the bailout will be worth $2.4 billion and is due for December. The deal stipulates that the government spend $2.2 billion and take a two-thirds stake in the company, while eight additional manufacturers, including Toyota and Nissan, will cover the remaining amount.

A spokesperson for the company said nothing had been decided.

By market share, Renesas is the world's biggest maker of microcontroller chips.

South Korean Pop Star Sets YouTube Mark

Psy, a South Korean pop star, now owns the most-watched video in YouTube history.

According to the BBC, Psy's track "Gangnam Style" has eclipsed 808 million viewers. Posted in July, the video mocks a suburb of the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Justin Bieber's 2010 hit "Baby" previously held the most-viewed title.

As the BBC reports, the dance moves contained in Psy's video had been mimicked -- and posted to YouTube -- by people ranging from Filipino prison inmates, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The song has reached No. 1 in 28 different countries and holds the Guinness World Record for the most Liked song; it has 5.4 million likes on YouTube.

French Parliament in Session and Online

Several French lawmakers were caught fiddling around on tablet computers during a recent session.

According to The Telegraph, not all the MPs were using their devices to bone up on proposed legislation. Indeed, cameras reportedly caught some of the parliamentarians accessing poker sites, reading cartoons, looking at clothing catalogs and -- France being France -- placing orders for fine wines.


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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