Friday, September 11, 2009

New Technology and Hip Hop

This blog has previously discussed the impact that Twitter would have on the burgeoning social networking scene in general, predicting that Twitter would become an important tool in promoting artists and athletes and providing access never before seen. So, with the growing popularity of Twitter, the following was bound to happen: In this new age of Twitter, blogs and moment-to-moment updating access, a lawsuit has been threatened based on the content of a Twitter message sent to thousands of "following" fans.

In recent news, Mistah FAB received a cease-and-desist letter from publisher Julia Beverly after FAB posted unflattering comments about Beverly on his Twitter account. Beverly is the owner of the music publication Ozone Magazine. The comments that Mistah FAB posted on Twitter were reportedly his response to a two year old interview that Julia Beverly, owner of music publication Ozone Magazine, recently posted online. In the newly posted interview, Mistah FAB discusses his disinterest in dark-skinned women. After purportedly receiving severe backlash for this comment after the interview was posted online, Mistah FAB attacked Beverly through Twitter.

FAB referred to Beverly in derogatory terms (i.e., “b**ch” and “hoe”) also referencing her in unflattering sexual contexts, which resulted in her letter calling for the retraction of the false and defamatory statements. The letter claims that the statements by Mistah FAB on Twitter will “damage and cause irreparable harm to Ms. Beverly’s image and reputation.” While the cease and desist letter did not state when an actual lawsuit would be filed, it threatened FAB by stating that his failure to remove the statements would ultimately result in a defamation action against Mistah FAB for libel. While defamation and libel law is convoluted, particularly when it comes to celebrities, it is very likely that courts will struggle with defining traditional defamation law in the new context of social networking sites and Twitter in particular.

With the recent Tila Tequila - Shawne Merriman ordeal dominating the news, notorious Twitterer Tequila may have to use caution going forward. With a District Attorney weighing whether to file charges against Merriman for false imprisonment and battery and with Merriman denying Tequila's allegation of choking and restraining her, instead arguing that he was trying to keep her from leaving while intoxicated, what Tequila "tweets" may become a part of future court records.


  1. shouldn't a different standard be applied to what folks post on twitter, etc. the medium is supposed to be a off-the-top-of-the-head reaction by those that communicate this way. unlike newspaper articles and books that defame, twitter has not gone through edits, re-writes, fact checks, etc. shouldn't courts develop a "twitter" standard if in fact defamation and libel claims are levied based on twitter comentary?

  2. This kind of idscussion between Mistah FAB and Beverly on his Twitter account was not good for her magazine. Smiles to you,


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