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Tweets Ruled As Public Information

twitterprivacyAs more and more people are increasingly asking the Press Complaint Commission in the United Kingdom to make judgements about what can be legitimately described as private information, the PCC has now ruled that materials published on Twitter shouldn’t be considered as private and can therefore be published. This decision follows a recent complaint by a Twitter user that the use of her tweets by newspapers was an invasion of privacy. The user complained that the information was private and only meant for her 700 or so followers. Although she had written a disclaimer that her views on Twitter were personal and has nothing to do with her employers, the press regulator ruled that the potential audience was much wider than her followers as the tweets could be forwarded (or re-tweeted) to others. In addition, because the user was not tweeting anonymously, the PCC agreed that it was publicly accessible and therefore did not constitute a breach of privacy.

This ruling brings to mind recent incidents involving high-profile sports personalities such as Premier League footballers Ryan Babel (now playing for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim) and Arsenal FC’s Jack Wilshere. While the latter was fined for a controversial statement, Wilshere only escaped with a caution  (from the likes of Theo Walcott). Overall, while some or most people are already aware that there is hardly any privacy on the Web particularly on social-networking sites, it is now official that those who make use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook to publish materials relating to their lives do so in a public domain and cannot legitimately describe such information as private particularly were no controls have been put in place.

Talking Point

Where do you draw the line between public and private information on social networking Websites such as Twitter and Facebook?

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  1. Aloys

    February 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    There’s really no such thing as private information on the internet. What guarantees do you have it won’t be used against you (by an employer for instance, or an ex, or whatever)? Most of the time they will most probably not admit to have used that piece of info. Now with rulings like this, an employer can fire your ass for getting pictures of you drunk from facebook. I always had the belief that there’s a limit to what you can share on the net. Better not to be over confident! 🙂

  2. SeoDezin

    February 13, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Only the information in the mail box are private and all other information are public and as twitter is more public than other sites.

  3. Bishwajeet

    February 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

    nothing is private on the net and if you post something defamatory you will be legally sued.

  4. Asad

    February 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I have seen only a few accounts(one in hundred) that have protected their tweets so i think that its a nice decision by PCC.

  5. JJ

    February 14, 2011 at 2:47 am

    I feel that if you are brave enough to put it on the internet you should understand the fact that it is going to be public, and that just about anyone is going to be able to read it. I don’t even feel email is that safe… Just my humble opinion

  6. Wholesale Suppliers

    February 14, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Twitter is also a Social networking giant but its more suitable for professional use rather then using for fun like Facebook cause on social networking sites specially on Twitter there is nothing to private your content is easily spreadable.

  7. bilal

    February 14, 2011 at 11:25 am

    this is not a good news for me because i always wants to hide my profile from others …..but thanks some privacy is still there

    • Admin

      February 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      Hmm, don’t you think using a social networking site is exactly one of the least effective ways of achieving that goal?

  8. bilal

    February 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

    i really like these rules its better to be an open book rather than to do anything based on lie …thanks for sharing it with me

  9. Anders

    February 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    There’s many positives of the internet, but privacy is one of the negatives. I don’t see how you can claim tweets are private. You are putting this information out there for anyone to see. People have to be aware that anything they post online can be read by anyone. If you don’t want people to know something, don’t post it.

  10. raymund

    February 23, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Haay, another internet privacy dilemma 🙁

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