O NE of the complaints about last year's Leveson report on the UK press was that it ignored the internet and social media. Lord Leveson said they were a separate subject but in one important respect they have just been shown to be indistinguishable from newspapers and TV. In the High Court last week Mr Justice Tugendhat ruled as libellous a tweet, which implied that Lord McAlpine. a former prominent Conservative politician, was the unnamed paedophile referred to in a BBC Newsnight report. The tweet was sent in her own name by Sally Bercow, wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, to her 56'000 followers. Some others who had hinted similarly quickly apologised to Lord McAlpine but Sally Bercow stood her ground and claimed that in effect her message was a question not a statement. The judge dismissed that argument and found her guilty of libel. Most people using social media may think of them as channels of personal communication with others of like-mind -- similar to a letter but reaching many more people very quickly. In his judgement of 48 pages Mr Justice Tugendhat made clear that a tweet of the permitted 140 characters is no different in principle to an article in a newspaper and those who use this medium must observe the same respect for the laws of libel and defamation that the press does.