How much damage can you do in 140 characters? Well, if your name is Courtney Love then the answer is rather a lot. The singer has agreed to pay Dawn Simorangkir $430,000 (Dh1.58M) in an out-of court-settlement, rather than go to trial over comments that she made about the fashion designer on Twitter and Myspace.
Had the dispute gone to court, it would have been the first Twitter libel lawsuit or 'Twibel' as these cases have already been dubbed. At the moment, the issue is contentious; there aren't any specific guidelines as to what exactly is viewed as defamation via Twitter. What is worth noting is that it's not just celebrities that this could cause bother for. In 2009, Horizon Realty Group, a real estate management firm, filed a lawsuit against a woman from Chicago for posting a negative comment about them on Twitter. Amid much media speculation, the case was dismissed, causing some embarrassment for the company. What this did do was bring up important issues about freedom of speech and the definition of libel on social networking sites - something keen tweeters and, in particular, celebrities (who tend to amass a greater following) would do well to bear in mind.
Perhaps this is something for new-to-Twitter Charlie Sheen to consider. The actor, who, it has to be said, is rather prone to controversy, launched his account on March 1 and has, according to Guinness World Records, become the fastest user ever to reach 1 million followers (it took him a mere 25 hours and 17 minutes). So let's just hope that the tiger blood doesn't go to his head.