Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie uses his column in the paper today to call for a Spartacus-style Twitter revolt under the headline “I am Twiticus”.
Let’s hope the revolt of MacKenzie’s followers ends better than it did for the Roman slaves – 6,000 of whom were crucified along the course of the Appian Way.
Kelvin’s substantive point is right – that the reputation management industry can’t be allowed to present the world with a phoney saccharine-coated view of the rich and famous by legal bullying to silence stories which reveal a darker private side behind their public faces.
But as the latest high-profile rebel Tweeter shows – the internet can give vent to a nasty side of human nature which the law is absolutely right to curb. They have Tweeted the alleged details behind 14 alleged gagging orders in recent days, and have so far attracted more than 11,000 followers.
The tweets include unproven allegations of sexual abuse against a named individual and private details about the health history of someone who’s father is a public figure. I doubt whether even Kelvin would argue that press freedom is best served by identifying alleged child sex abuse victims (as naming the alleged victim’s father in this case does). Or by acting as judge and jury for someone accused of such a crime but never convicted in a court of law.
Personally, if I had to put my neck on the line for press freedom – I would rather I was doing it for something other than the naming of a blackmail victim or of an unwell child who found themselves in the public eye for no other reason than the fame of their parents.