Digital Age

Twitter Sets Off of Fake Scandal

“It was kind of a joke,” when a French online journalist tweeted the gossip that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was cheating on his wife, Carla Bruni, and she was cheating on him. She had no idea if it was true, but the “news” spread internationally as it was repeated by reporters and gossip sites, and Sarkozy had to issue an angry denial during a press conference in London. Twitter users treat the service as a social-networking site, but legally, it’s considered a platform just like a newspaper or TV show and therefore subject to libel laws. By repeating the rumors, journalists—even if they were tweeting in a personal, not professional capacity—gave more credibility to the story. The fake-scandal scandal provoked much debate in France over Twitter’s legal status, with some users saying the site should be considered personal so people can say anything on it without repercussions. Legal experts, however, say that’s not the case.