I’m not going to go into what the Trafigura meme on Twitter refers to, needless to say it can be found pretty easily on the interweb.
Britain’s frightening libel laws are currently being used to issue pre-emptive super-injunctions that not only prevent the media from reporting on cases, but prevent them from from reporting anything about them – even that they’ve been prevented from reporting them.
Traditionally, MPs could use parliamentary privilege to raise or discuss issues otherwise banned from public debate, but the recent emergence of these super-injunctions prevents the press from reporting parliamentary questions, or even referring to them specifically.
In the age of the internet this is quite absurd, like the long-gestating rumour about Andrew Marr that the Labour Party is planning to raise in parliament in revenge over Marr throwing stupid internet rumours at Gordon Brown.
Anyone with the merest hint of internet nous can find out what this refers to.
So, as is the way of things, Trafigura went viral following a written parliamentary question on Monday 12 October.
The Guardian reported that it had been banned from reporting a parliamentary question and Twitter took over.
Only, understandably, Trafigura was deleted from trending topics, despite the fact it was obviously the top-trending topic. One minute it was top, the next it had vanished. Twitter’s trend explanations were also absent from any topics relating to Trafigura.
I don’t blame them, British libel laws are notorious for being swingeing, and Carter-Ruck’s efficacy in the area is well-know.
However, the Private Eye reports that the legal grounding for these super-injunctions is dubious, and the Lib Dems and The Grauniad have promised action on the case.
It’s another case of how futile traditional libel laws are when it comes to social media, and it’s a score for the Twitterverse. Digg users got in on the act too.
Social media may the medium that brings down the use of super-injunctions, having brought the issue out into the light, where the traditional media could not. Fascinating stuff.
All the relevant keywords are back on Twitter, though Twitter is not explaining the reason for them trending, as it does with other trends.
The Torygraph is now reporting the Twitter/Trafigura phenomenon in a carefully-worded article, though its report features no mention of The Guardian.
While people have been sued for their tweets before, it’s not clear how the tens of thousands of people who have now tweeted about the injunction could be sued, or whether there’d be much point.
The press will continue to tread a cautious line until such an order is lifted though, with their legal situation less opaque than that of social media sites and individuals.
The Guardian is currently attempting to challenge the injunction in court and the Liberal Democrat are seeking a debate in Parliament.
And here’s the Minton Report, which kicked off all of today’s shenanigans.
So, to sum up, this is currently being reported all over social media, the world’s foreign media and can be easily found on the Parliament website.
The greatest irony of all is that no-one had heard of Trafigura until today.
• Here’s a Tweetmap image showing trending topics in Europe this morning. The fact that Twitter feeds are among the most automatically aggregated on the planet also indicates just how impossible it is to police social media.
Carter-Ruck gives up. Social media win.
What happens next?
It’s unlikely to get any better for Trafigura and Carter-Ruck according to Techchrunch