Analysis: Freedom to tweet limited by law

Ultimately, Twitter did not have any choice but to hand over these identity details.

Twitter has very strict privacy laws and arrangements - it does try to protect its users - but if a court order is issued it has to obey it. Twitter, like us, is in the hands of the courts. They do not make the law and it is not up to Twitter to disregard a court - I believe it is doing its best to protect individuals.

There is a lot of debate on privacy at the moment and the laws are currently in turmoil, but there has to be a balance without squashing freedom of speech - otherwise social media is in danger of becoming Orwellian.

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We should be able to express ourselves and have freedom of opinion. The problem arises when people think they are anonymous in social media circles, write terrible things and behave appallingly. Would the same people do and say the same things to your face? I don't think so.

I talk to many people and you do have differences of opinion, which you discuss. You might disagree, but you don't rant and rave and make stuff up, because there is a point when it turns into bullying.

If a person is going to make allegations or accusations that can not be substantiated with evidence, then that is not acceptable. Too much of what is being said is not true and anonymity just gives people another place to hide.

The issue with South Tyneside Council is that it has used public money to chase a libel, which is a whole other argument. However, on the other side, if there is truth in what is being said then there's another question.

Both parties involved in such an accusation or discussion are entitled to their opinion. People should be able to have their say, but we need to know who the other person is who is making these criticisms.

• Sarah-Jane White is a social media consultant and author of 49 Quick Ways to Market Your Business For Free, to be published in June.