La Russa & The AP Claims Twitter Settled Lawsuit... Twitter Sets The Record Straight

from the that's-not-quite-right dept

Last week, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter over a fake account made in his name. La Russa had no case. Multiple lawyers chimed in, and I've yet to hear from any who thought he had even a remote chance to win this case. However, the AP reported that Twitter settled, deleted the account and agreed to donate an undisclosed sum to a La Russa-backed charity. This seemed like a really bad idea, because it would just encourage others who had fake accounts opened up to sue. Hell, if someone were really sneaky, they could get a friend to open up a fake account, and then go and sue Twitter to get some settlement money. Giving in to bullies with no legal basis can come back to haunt you.

But... Twitter is claiming the story is not true. It does say that it deleted the account, but that's because of the terms of service violation -- not because of any settlement. Instead:
Reports this week that Twitter has settled a law suit and officially agreed to pay legal fees for an impersonation complaint that was taken care of by our support staff in accordance with our Terms are erroneous. Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay.

With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous. Twitter's Terms of Service are fair and we believe will be upheld in a court that will ultimately dismiss Mr. La Russa's lawsuit.
Now that is a lot more like it. In the meantime, it's worth noting that La Russa still doesn't seem to recognize the case still has no chance:
"There is a law against improperly using a person's name without authorization and it wasn't authorized."
I'm curious (a) which law he's talking about specifically and (b) how this was "improper use." The account was clearly a parody (and said so in the bio). There was no implied endorsement of anything or other misuse of La Russa's name. And, even if La Russa's statement was true, the liability would certainly be on whoever created the account -- not Twitter. While the details of what actually happened still aren't clear... I'm guessing that after Twitter deleted the account, La Russa simply assumed they "settled." Most likely, his lawyers will drop the lawsuit, but it would be interesting to see if Twitter pushes to keep the lawsuit in place in order to try to get a favorable ruling and use it to prevent other, similar, frivolous lawsuits.

Oh, and in the meantime, isn't the Associated Press supposed to fact check things like "Tony La Russa and Twitter have reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the social networking site" and "Twitter has agreed to pay legal fees and make a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation" both of which appear not to be true? The AP keeps telling us that only its "professional" journalists get things right -- whereas those "amateur" bloggers out there screw up the news all the time. Or did the AP figure that it could get away with not fact checking, since it could just threaten to sue any blogger who quoted its erroneous report?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 8:37am

    "La Russa & The AP Claims Twitter Settled Lawsuit... Twitter Sets The Record Straight"

    Well, to be fair to Tony, he'd had fourteen martinis and drove a car into a tree on the property of Mark McGuirre, who went into 'roids rage and slapped him with his man-mammaries....so cut him some slack.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 8:57am

      Re:

      Could be worse. La Russa could have a Mac, I suppose. Not that you'd even say anything of the sort, or want or even engage in such a conversation. Damn that *Fake* Tgeigs, they struck again! You must run into that a lot.

       

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    Designerfx (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    couldn't twitter sue AP?

    Wouldn't AP be quite a bit liable for making a false legal representation like that? Not to mention it can give twitter an even easier dismissal citing a bias.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 8:59am

    Fact Checkers

    The big papers have been saddled with the debt that it took to buy them, and are therefor unable to staff a copy desk. The AP just passes along stories from their members. Seems unfair to blame the AP in this case.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:12am

      Re: Fact Checkers

      Err... what?

      Papers have debt because they were trying to "return value to shareholders" through dividends and when debt was some how the financial fashion statement. Of course, that's unrelated to the comment here.

      How in the world is AP not to blame if the quote from the beginning goes like this:

      "ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Twitter have reached a settlement in his lawsuit against the social networking site."

      Note the letters in parenthesis.

       

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        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: Fact Checkers

        "Note the letters in parenthesis."

        I had always thought that meant it was a synthesized report. I didn't realize that AP had its own reporters on staff.

        OK, I take it back. Blame away at AP. They really have no excuse for not staffing a copy desk.

         

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      Hulser (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:21am

      Re: Fact Checkers

      Seems unfair to blame the AP in this case.

      It seems perfectly fair to me. The product that the AP provides is accurate news. If the AP provides innacurate news, not only does their overall reputation and marketability decrease, but they've failed to provide a quality product which makes it perfectly fair to criticize them. Saying it's unfair to criticize the AP for publishing erroneous information is like saying it's unfair to blame St. Louis Cardinals when they lose a game.

       

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      Freedom, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

      Re: Fact Checkers

      >> The AP just passes along stories from their members. Seems unfair to blame the AP in this case

      And hence the real problem with the AP - if all you do is pass around stories in the Internet Age, aren't you pretty much irrelevant at this point then? Where is the value add in today's Internet World for that?

      Freedom

       

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    identicon
    bob, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    AP Fact Checking?

     

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    bob, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    AP Fact Checking?

    This is one of the reasons that newspapers are losing out to the Internets.
    Crappy reporting.

     

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    identicon
    Michael B, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:28am

    Batting Next...

    ...lawsuits against any other person worldwide who dares have the name Tony LaRussa, Anthony LaRussa, Toni LaRussa, or any parent who infringed on his rights by naming a child with that name.

     

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    GregSJ (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:31am

    Thank goodness

    Glad to see that the Twitter didn't settle. Way to go AP for providing another example of why main stream news is failing.

     

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    AC's long lost brother, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:31am

    Just think

    As he has a law degree, tony could have shown us his brilliant legal mind in the courtroom.... *sigh*

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    I believe everything Twitter says but...

    what exactly was the violation of the terms? I know we all believe what Twitter says because they're cool and the AP isn't I'm just curious.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 10:16am

      Re: I believe everything Twitter says but...

      The person who setup the account was acting like the coach (talking about plays and how well he thought he did), not just some guy with the same name. This suggested (I'm not going to say proved since it still could have been him) that the person who setup the account wasn't who he claimed to be. Thus the violation of the terms of service.

      Prepare for a hacking charge next.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Alright, the sun is calling, and I'm going to check out for the week.

    You kids have fun now.

    Don't give Tgeigs too much crap. You don't want his impersonator hunting you down. After all, they may turn out to be the opposite of Tgeigs-- socially conservative and fiscally liberal. What a horrible thought!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    "I'm guessing that after Twitter deleted the accont,"

    Notice the typo?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    perhaps twitter did make the agreement, but it wasn't on paper yet. So when the news came out early, they back peddled.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 10:14am

    what if...

    La Russa did win? Would that mean that victims of identity theft, in whose names false credit accounts were created, could sue credit card companies? That would be awesome.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 10:24am

    The AP just figured out that facts aren't copyrightable. So they turned to making up the news instead since they are able to copyright fiction.

     

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    Justin Dessonville (profile), Jun 8th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Blame the driver not the car

    Next time I get in a car accident. I'm going to sue the car manufacturer for making something that I could possibly get in an accident with.

    Next time I search Google Images with Safe Search off and a topless woman shows up in my results, I'm going to sue Google.

    Where's the common sense? Thank you Twitter for standing your ground.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 6:07pm

      Re: Blame the driver not the car

      "Next time I get in a car accident. I'm going to sue the car manufacturer for making something that I could possibly get in an accident with"

      Actually, people do that all the time and win. Showing that a product had a defect in it and was not corrected creates liability.

      Twitter has knowingly created a system where anyone can take on the personality of a celeb and claim to be them, making false statements or otherwise causing harm. Knowing that this defect exists, Twitter hasn't done anything to fix the issue, thus creating the potential for liabilty (under your example).

       

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        the other AC, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 11:29pm

        Re: Re: Blame the driver not the car

        Knowing that this defect exists, Twitter hasn't done anything to fix the issue.

        Umm, yeah they have, you can request to remove the fake profiles.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    So Tony drops the suit yet Twitter says they will win in court?

     

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    batch, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    doesn't the Associated Press actually think people should pay them for news like this: The news that they didn't bother to fact check? What a bargain!

     

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    Dan, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Facts? We don't need no stinking facts!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    You could run Twitter on SkyNet, and have it preemptively launch miss... er, delete accounts that it THINKS are violating terms of service. Because, you know, current servers cannot be made to think independently. Even so they would have to be up to date with all the current celebrities, so it would be a gossip machine. Interesting...

     

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    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Journalism?

    Right on, Michael!
    Recently an article (AP? Think so) by a "professional" journalist said (paraphrasing) "vitamins are useless". The ScienceDaily article that was plagiarized from (even some of the same grammatical mistakes) went on to say "for heart attack prevention" and "known to be beneficial for other reasons", etc. TOTALLY different result!!!
    Professional? I don't think so.

     

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