So the story goes like this. Melbourne author and oft-naked vegan posterchild Marieke Hardy became the target of a spiteful anonymous internet troll for five years via the blog Marieke Hardy Is Scum. (Subtlety was never the internet’s strong suit.) The blog’s author usually made reference to Hardy through myriad misogynist epithets like “slut juice”, “dumb bitch” etc. Marieke eventually unearthed the source of this vitriol: one Joshua Meggitt.
Upon discovering the true identity of her troll Hardy took to her own blog in an effort to publicly out her harasser. She included a photo of Meggitt in her post and took her offensive to Twitter declaring: “I name and shame my ‘anonymous’ internet bully. Liberating business! Join me”.
Unfortunately, the name ‘Joshua Meggitt’ was in fact a nom de guerre. The real true identity of the blogger behind the bile was James Vincent McKenzie.
The completely innocent Mr Meggitt was understandably upset about becoming the focus of nationally publicised hate campaign, and subsequently sued Hardy for defamation (they settled out of court). Now Mr Meggitt is turning his attention to Twitter, requesting damages for the role the social media platform played in muddying his name.
Lawyers for Meggitt have served a legal notice to Twitter Inc for defamation as the publisher of the tweet that triggered a domino-effect of angry public spray at the wrongly accused family man.
The root of all the vagaries surrounding accountability in social media is in the definition. How is blame allocated in situations where social media and information sharing platforms play a role in harmful illegal activities? Surely the impact of social media should be considered in the same way the impact of a weapon is considered in a violent crime: the culpability falls with the user.
Do you think Joshua Meggitt is justified in seeking action against Twitter?