An apologetic tweeter

A Malaysian social activist will apologise 100 times on Twitter in an unusual settlement with a magazine publisher in a defamation case, reports The Guardian.


[…] Fahmi Fadzil, an opposition politician’s aide and respected commentator on social issues, claimed on Twitter in January that his pregnant friend had been poorly treated by her employers at a magazine run by BluInc Media.

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.

[…] Syahredzan said it was believed to be the first settlement involving the use of Twitter in a Malaysian defamation case.

Fahmi’s follower count has increased, as you’d expect, now more than 5,200 (including me) as I write this.

It’s an interesting idea: focus your apology to a community that’s connected to you – your followers on Twitter – rather than using the traditional mechanism of a mainstream media apology that broadcasts your apology to millions, most of whom could care less. More importantly, perhaps, connecting this to an online social networking community gives it traction to spread via sharing opportunities and others adding their perspectives.

It also adds to the tweeter’s social graph and, actually, may help improve his online reputation purely because of what he’s doing and the way he’s doing it.

A very different approach to settling a legal dispute. I’d say worth considering in some celeb legal cases involving Twitter here in the UK.

It’s a bit like community service, as The Guardian notes a blogger as saying. The screenshot above is of Fahmi’s 54th apology tweet. Only 46 to go…

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Andy Yates

    This is a fantastic way to solve online defamation cases.

    The circle of people that heard the defamatory statements will now know for sure, even if they missed the original statement, that it wasn’t true.

    I think, the defamed side needs to be smart enough to actually offer an option like that as a settlement. Now they received much more positive PR than pre accident, plus harm is reduce to nil in terms of defamation.

    I work for online reputation management company (full disclosure)

    • neville

      Thanks for your comments, Andy. I agree with you – I can see benefits for everyone in this as one potential settlement option in such circumstances.

      Lawyers might not agree though ;)

      • Andy Yates

        It feels like there is too much “lawyering” going on. Everyone makes mistakes.

        How much would legal revenues be cut for attorneys if we just came down to a simple “I am sorry. I screwed up.” And this guys said it 100 times. How much better can it be??

    • Andy Yates


      Chmmm…. Interesting point of view. Haven’t thought of that. Can you explain why you think “the significance of the apology is greatly reduced by apologizing 100 times.”?

      Probably I didn’t considered something. If guy apologized once – no-one would have noticed. 100 = all the media attention, plus we still talking about it. Wouldn’t this be more powerful way?

  2. sarah

    It’s just my personal opinion – I just feel that by the 100th time the apology has lost all it’s meaning and the focus is just turned back onto fahmi fazil through all the hype; which is good for him i suppose.

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