Is there a need for a social networking watchdog to paralyse public power?

A report has appeared on the BBC website where it is claimed that a man from Guatemala urged his people to withdraw their money from the country's rural development bank via Twitter.

An appeals court has ruled that there is not enough evidence to try Jean Anleu accused of using micro-blog Twitter to cause a financial panic. His tweet read 'first concrete action should be, take cash out of Banrural and bankrupt the bank of the corrupt'.

Prosecutor Genaro Pacheco had said the tweet illegally undermined public trust in Guatemala's banking system but the appeals court has ordered the case judge to rule "the case lacks merit", according to the Associated Press.

The power to create a wave of reaction has arguably not been exploited by Twitter just yet, this is arguably just a matter of time as Facebook has been a bastion for collecting people together to bring about change - see the reintroduction of Cadbury's Wispa for evidence of this. Although that was mildly light hearted, there is the potential to cause an immediate panic if a tweet is delivered, picked up and 'retweeted', possibly misinterpreted and carried into the public awareness.

What would have happened for example, if Twitter had been at the level of popularity when Northern Rock applied for emergency funding? There could be some argument that the bank's survival was caused by the likes of social networking users not causing a panic.

Maybe this incident, and likely future events may lead the call for a watchdog (or for Twitterati) to control the output of users and ensure that the site remains on the right side of legality.

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