Twitter ruling says no privacy can be expected

Twitter training courses

One of things we're often asked about by clients is the law in respect of what you can publish on Twitter on how you stand with UK law.

Whilst we advise to treat all public tweeting as no different to any other form of communication in respect of legalities, there is an interesting case today that highlights why you really should be very careful with what you choose to say.

The case is in the United States but in our opinion it is likely to be a ruling that would have been made in any other court - being responsible for what you write and having little or no expectation of privacy if posting publically.

The US judge presiding over the case has ordered that Twitter release data in relation to the user who was part of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Mashable reported that the judge (Matthew Sciarrino) said "If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy".

He continued with "There is no proprietary interest in your tweets, which you have now gifted to the world.  This is not the same as a private email, a private direct message, a private chat, or any of the other readily available ways to have a private conversation via the Internet that now exist."

The main discussion about this case centred on whether Harris (the defendant) or Twitter owned the tweets in question and should Harris expect a 'reasonable level of privacy' from Twitter - thereby meaning they couldn't hand over the offending tweets without it representing an 'instrusion' of his personal property.

Twitter has been refusing to hand over the tweets on the basis that they are not the owners of the material and that they respect their users right to privacy and ownership.

In response to the judgement today Twitter said "We are disappointed in the judge’s decision and are considering our options."

Our view is unchanged.  Consider what you write on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media channel.  It is a form of direct communication into which the same levels of legal consideration should be given that you would an email, your website publications or any other form of contact with the general public.

Simply put, be safe - not sorry.

 



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