For the best part of a decade, Internet users have enjoyed the freedom of chatting, gossiping and generally socialising on all kinds of online platforms such as blogs, forums, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. However, just as similar ‘fads’ have come and gone (remember the CB Radio anyone?) could this golden age of social networking be coming to an end?
It’s no secret that the Twittersphere has been shaken up recently with the super-injunction legal wrangle. Plenty has been said on the subject of personal details of those tweeters accused of breaking privacy and libel laws, being handed over to the authorities by Twitter amid fears of being sued. So whereas the legal system has previously struggled to assert any jurisdiction over the online world, this action could set a precedent, in which case users of any online community should take note.
I suspect that many people have, at some point, sailed close to the wind with controversial comments and behaviour online, either believing they could hide behind an anonymous username or perhaps simply being naïve to the consequences. However, if the super-injunction case does bring about changes to the enforcement of the law online, then don’t be surprised to see people pulling the plug on their tweeting, blogging and commenting for fear of being exposed or even prosecuted.
The ‘walkout’ might already have started as last month alone, 100,000 UK Facebook users are said to have deactivated their accounts. Is it just a coincidence that this follows the issue with the super-injunction? Perhaps they simply became bored with the site? Or are people beginning to have genuine concerns about their online privacy and the implications of using Social Media?