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I will not Tweet indiscriminately. I will not Tweet indiscriminately. I will not Tweet indiscriminately. I will not...
June 2, 2011 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Malaysian performer and social activist Fahmi Fadzil was sued for defamation by media company Blu Inc after a Tweet in January alleging that the company maltreated a pregnant friend who was an employee. His punishment? To tweet 100 times over 3 days:
I've DEFAMED Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR Policies are untrue. I retract those words & hereby apologize.
Responses from other Malaysian Twitter users, mostly on Fahmi's side, have been interesting.
posted by divabat (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Like being given lines at school - only he can copy/paste.

Pretty silly punishment though unless they want even more focus on the company and people seeking more mud to throw at them.
posted by episodic at 4:35 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's the perfect punishment for defamation because it costs the defamer nothing and totally discredits both itself and the defamed.. and the broken libel system that made the suit even possible.. and might help free up future court time for real cases. Go judge!
posted by jeffburdges at 4:43 AM on June 2, 2011


I wonder what @SteveReich thinks of this.
posted by exogenous at 4:45 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was the original assertion of bad behavior really false?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:01 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear god twitter is annoying.
posted by delmoi at 5:06 AM on June 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hey, if the company's main concern is to repair their image, and they don't really care about punishing the guy, this makes total sense.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:06 AM on June 2, 2011


I will not tweet. I will not tweet. I will not tweet.

No, really, I will not tweet.
posted by bwg at 5:09 AM on June 2, 2011


Lesson #1 - Businesses have more rights than you do.

Lesson #2 - To the greatest degree physically possible, protect your online anonymity.

Lesson #3 - All forms of social networking actively undermine #2 above.


All said, though, I'd say he got off pretty damned easy, considering the jurisdiction involved... He still has all his fingers, hasn't vanished, hasn't had his sister tortured...
posted by pla at 5:18 AM on June 2, 2011


I'm just happy to know that American judges haven't cornered the market on teh stupidandcrazy yet.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:23 AM on June 2, 2011


Lesson #3 - All forms of social networking actively undermine #2 above.

This notably includes email, IRC, posting on MetaFilter, and talking to people at your workplace.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:27 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder what @SteveReich thinks of this.

He'd be more interested if it were three people tweeting simultaneously and the first one was taking one letter from the end and moving it to the beginning for each new tweet, and the middle one was tweeting the text normally each time, and the last one was taking one letter from the beginning and moving it to the end each time.
posted by hippybear at 5:34 AM on June 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Pretty silly punishment

It may have been suggested by Fahmi himself:

Fahmi wrote an apology to BluInc on Twitter a few hours after making that allegation, but the company's lawyers later sent him a letter demanding unspecified financial damages for defamation and another apology in major newspapers, said Fahmi's lawyer, Syahredzan Johan. Syahredzan said Fahmi settled the case this week by agreeing to apologise 100 times over three days on Twitter, where he has more than 4,200 followers. Syahredzan declined to say who suggested the terms.

Seems to me that Fahmi's lawyers might have suggested the Twitter apology in lieu of a more expensive ad in multiple newspapers. It does seem more appropriate, and given that he apologized for the tweet almost immediately, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that there was more to the story than his initial tweet about his pregnant friend implied.
posted by mediareport at 5:41 AM on June 2, 2011


Huh. If he's anything like the social activists I know, a better punishment would be to STOP HIM from tweeting 100 times in three days...
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:49 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only thing I learned here was that Blu Inc. needs new lawyers. According to the story, the guy retracted and apologized before the suit was even filed. Then what was the point of the lawsuit? Money damages? To teach him and others a lesson? Was he still refusing to do something or threatening something such that they thought they needed to sue for leverage? That's pretty wasteful.

Then, after filing suit, they settle for 100 tweets drawing more attention to the issue? These couldn't possibly be social media lawyers or they'd know better. What has happened was entirely predictable.

In the above, note that I am totally setting aside the veracity of the tweet. It doesn't matter. That's the first lesson in social media law - message control is more important than winning. For all I know this social activist was a lying sack of shit. Don't care. The goal of the company should be to take down the post/minimize its visibility. Way to fail.
posted by Muddler at 5:50 AM on June 2, 2011


Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine HR employees do not greet each other with "Hail Satan!"
Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine HR employees do not greet each other with "Hail Satan!"
Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine HR employees do not greet each other with "Hail Satan!"
Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine HR employees do not greet each other with "Hail Satan!"
Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine HR employees do not greet each other with "Hail Satan!" ...
posted by octobersurprise at 5:59 AM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If he's anything like the social activists I know, a better punishment would be to STOP HIM from tweeting 100 times in three days...

Vague, mean-spirited insults like that are disgusting. If you have anything to say about his work, or the interviews he does on The Fairly Current Show, then make the effort to say it.
posted by mediareport at 6:00 AM on June 2, 2011


Then, after filing suit, they settle for 100 tweets drawing more attention to the issue? These couldn't possibly be social media lawyers or they'd know better.

Althouse Hobo Murder.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:06 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


seems quite reasonable to me ... punishment fitting the crime and all that
posted by jannw at 6:14 AM on June 2, 2011


Vague, mean-spirited insults like that are disgusting.

Oh, get over yourself. It was a dumb joke about the well-meaning friends we all have who unintentionally clog our walls and Twitter streams with outrage spam. It had nothing to do with him and you know it. Enjoy your favorites, though.
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:16 AM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's like a madlib!

I've ____[verbed]___ Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My ___[nouns]___ on their ____[object]___ are true/untrue. I ____[verb]____ those ____[objects]____ & hereby apologize.
posted by fuq at 6:28 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've ___pooped___ Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My ___George Washington___ on their __Mrs. Krabapple__ are true/untrue. I ___peed___ those ___farts___ & hereby apologize.

madlibs just don't seem to satisfy me the way they did when I was a kid.
posted by stavrogin at 6:40 AM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I see a lot of un-following in his future and de-friending if he imports his tweets to Facebook.

Which is probably the goal of the punishment. Maybe the media company thinks his ego is as fragile as theirs.
posted by JLovebomb at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2011


There is of course one question for people who don't live in regimes like Malaysia with asinine libel laws : Did Blu Inc. actually prove in court that they did not miss-treat his pregnant friend? Or did he simply lose by default like what'd happen the broken U.K. system?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:48 AM on June 2, 2011


It would be funny if his twitter account get suspended for spamming...
posted by voferreira at 6:50 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be funny if his twitter account get suspended for spamming...

Actually it would possibly put him in contempt of court. The sentence was that account, and 100 times. I'm not sure what Malaysian court is like for impossibility as a defence.
posted by jaduncan at 7:17 AM on June 2, 2011


Oh, and of course if you get suspended for the same message 30 times, the twitter spam scripts won't take it too well when you attempt to do it with *exactly* the same messages as soon as you get reinstated.

How unfun. :/
posted by jaduncan at 7:19 AM on June 2, 2011


Having to Tweet 100 times over three days using Twitter's abysmal interface is punishment enough. What a ridiculous company.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:20 AM on June 2, 2011


Twitter's abysmal interface

Which one?
posted by jsavimbi at 7:45 AM on June 2, 2011


Vague, mean-spirited insults like that are disgusting.

Am I missing something? That didn't sound like an insult; that sounded true. The best way to punish a social activist is by taking away his/her power to communicate. No one 'disappears' quicker than someone who suddenly 'decides' to go silent..
posted by majonesing at 9:27 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had seen the story trending over the last couple of days, and wasn't the least interested. It's on The Blue now, though, and I only have one question, well a couple, really.

Did he really defame them, meaning Blu Inc didn't maltreat his pregnant friend? Or is this just a legal outcome that has nothing to do with the facts? Or somewhere in between, where the treatment of pregnant friend wasn't very good, but the statements of maltreatment were exaggerated?

And is this the future of short form journalism? FTS.

disclaimer: I visited all the links, but didn't readily observe the answers to the above questions; to a more keen eyed or diligent observer the answers may indeed be there. If so, I'll add another complaint; answers to obvious questions should be made more obvious.
posted by Xoebe at 10:59 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


exogenous: "I wonder what @SteveReich thinks of this."

I wonder what @RepWeiner thinks of this.
posted by falameufilho at 1:01 PM on June 2, 2011


...and what Xoebe said.
posted by falameufilho at 1:03 PM on June 2, 2011


pla: Geez, this isn't the Taliban. We don't do finger-chopping or sister-torture in Malaysia. Way to show your xenophobia.
posted by divabat at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


divabat : We don't do finger-chopping or sister-torture in Malaysia.

True... At least, not to natives.


Way to show your xenophobia.

Hey now, I can think of much better ways to show my xenophobia!

Such as, by caning foreigners! I think 30k per five years should nicely prove "my" xenophobia...


(Okay, so the finger chopping went too far. I'll take my hit for that one)
posted by pla at 4:08 PM on June 2, 2011


jeffburdges, Xoebe

As far as I know, defamation laws in many Commonwealth countries including Malaysia were inherited from the British, which generally place the burden of proof on the defendant in defamation lawsuits. Take for instance Holocaust denier David Irving's decision to file a libel suit against American author Deborah Lipstadt in the UK. I'm guessing it was easier to tweet apologies than to definitively prove that Blu Inc. media is hostile towards pregnant women in the workplace, but it is not just a "repressive regime" thing.
posted by peripathetic at 4:18 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Okay, so the finger chopping went too far. I'll take my hit for that one)

So you had no idea about what you were talking about, and decided to make amends about that by talking about a completely unrelated piece of news? As a foreigner who's lived in Malaysia, you'll have to bear with me here, I'm trying to understand your thinking.
posted by the cydonian at 9:49 PM on June 2, 2011


pla, please try not to follow up the cheap racism with a failure to apologise.

(Okay, so the finger chopping went too far. I'll take my hit for that one)

You think that's an apology? The original comment just reads like someone referring to a random place in Africa and talking about jungle drums.
posted by jaduncan at 3:22 AM on June 3, 2011


cydonian : So you had no idea about what you were talking about, and decided to make amends about that by talking about a completely unrelated piece of news?

I knew of Malaysia as a place where torture and police brutality count as the norm, and made the mistake of assuming they behaved like any other Sharia-influenced legal system.

As it turns out, well, we all know what happens when we assume things. Instead of cutting off fingers, they apparently keep their tortures simple, nothing but a stick and good aim necessary. Almost admirable.


jaduncan : pla, please try not to follow up the cheap racism

Cydonian got it more accurate than you. Xenophobia, perhaps, insofar as I don't believe in cultural relativism - Some things just count as "wrong", period (and I put "torture" solidly in that category). But racism? Sorry, but racism against SE Asians left the US half a century ago (except insofar as "widespread attempted emulation" admits to differences). You might as well accuse me of "racism" against the Scots or the French.


You think that's an apology?

Not really, no.
posted by pla at 3:45 AM on June 3, 2011


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