UK Commission: ‘Unprotected’ Tweets Fair Game for Republishing

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twitter_smallADOTAS – Think before you tweet, especially if you could be made a target of the merciless UK press.

How merciless are they? There’s actually a UK Press Complaints Commission, which just ruled against a government official complaining that a British newspaper republished her “unprotected” tweets.

Department of Transport’s Sarah Baskerville was nonplussed that the Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday reprinted some tweets she made about being hungover at work — it confuses me why she was angry because I thought British people were constantly hungover (at least the ones I know are — then again, they are musicians…). Baskerville argued that she considered the tweets private, specifically for her 700 followers.

The PCC agreed with the paper that the tweets were in the public domain: “The Commission decided that republication of material by national newspapers, even though it was originally intended for a smaller audience, did not constitute a privacy intrusion,” wrote PCC Director Stephen Abell.

It’s an interesting ruling — it seems to make sense because unless your Twitter account is private, anyone can access your tweets, not just followers. But is that clear to most people? We know government officials can be slow on the uptake, but what about the rest of the tweeters out there? Does Twitter need to highlight privacy expectations or should users know better?

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