Who “owns” your Twitter posts?
The answer might just surprise you.
It’s not you. So says a court in New York State.
Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. ruled that Twitter user Malcom Harris has “no proprietary interests” in his own Twitter posts and ordered the social media giant to hand over all of Harris’ past tweets including those he had deleted.
Not only is anything you write on Twitter up for grabs if a court orders Twitter to hand them over, so is everything you deleted.
Oh, and the best part is that Judge Sciarrino says no warrant is required for any of this.
That should terrify you.
Back in April 2012 Josh Wolford wrote:
“While the Fourth Amendment provides protection for our physical homes, we do not have a physical ‘home’ on the Internet.”
That’s the crux of a decision from New York Criminal Court judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. Not only that, but when you tweet, you’re giving Twitter the right to distribute all of you information however they please.
For that reason, prosecutors looking to access your tweets (even ones that you’ve deleted) for the purposes of building or bolstering a case against you can snatch them up with a subpoena – and you have no recourse.
Twitter has a long history of standing up for Freedom of Speech and the privacy rights of its users. The company goes to court with regularity to challenge government intrusions into personal privacy and attacks on freedom of speech.
For example, in January of this year a French civil court ordered Twitter to identify users who that court claimed posted “hateful and/or anti-Semitic” messages.
This all centered around a trending Twitter hashtag “#unBonJuif” (French for “#aGoodJew”) which was at the time the third most popular hashtag on Twitter in France.
A group of perennial victims in search of someone to pay them off for their “hurt feelings”, the Union of Jewish French Students (UEJF), sued Twitter for $50 million, presumably in hopes of retiring on the fruits of someone else’s labour and asinine “hate speech” laws.
The Union of Jewish French Students took exception to Twitter users posting jokes and demanded a hefty payday for “being offended” by Freedom of Speech.
The issue here is our collective thin-skinned hides and our utter inability to comprehend that Free Speech is not Approved Speech.
Human beings say things offense to my sensibilities every day. Does that mean I go running to “daddy” aka the Nanny State to be paid off every time someone says or writes something I consider rude?
No, of course not. I use my Right to Freedom of Speech to expose them for what they are.
Union president Jonathan Hayoun doesn’t think that way. He believes Twitter owes him for his intense sense of victimhood.
He and his organization filed their second lawsuit in six months because Twitter had “ignored” the previous ruling.
“Twitter is playing the indifference card and does not respect the ruling. They have resolved to protect the anonymity of the authors of these tweets and have made themselves accomplices to racists and anti-Semites.”
Twitter did not “ignore” the French civil court ruling; Twitter utterly rejected it as stupid and anti-Freedom. Naturally it helps that Twitter is an American company protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but the First Amendment is meaningless without people willing to stand up for it.
Thank God for the owners and management of Twitter who clearly comprehend what Free Speech means and is willing to stand on principle, especially when when doing so comes at great cost.