back to article Judge: Twitter offers free speech, American style

A New York judge has ruled that Twitter offers freedom of speech in the grand tradition of American liberty – but that won't help you when the police come knocking to take a peek at your posting history. "It is probably safe to assume that Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson would have …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't Tweet, but... why is Twitter *keeping* a history?

    They could save a lot of space on their servers if Tweets auto-expired after a user-settable interval, after which Twitter purged the data.

    I'll guess Twitter's keeping the data has something to do with profile-building, profile-selling, and increasing Twitter's profits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't Tweet, but... why is Twitter *keeping* a history?

      At least they say that the tweet is still the property of the account holder unlike Facebook that claims it all for itself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Looks like

      The legal system is trying to catch up and understand the idea of social media


      If the judge sees this as just 'shouting out' to the world the 'Bradford Airport' tweet should be seen in a different light?

      We could all be arrested for shouting out at the orld.

      1. AdamWill

        Re: Looks like

        American legal system. British legal system. Not the same thing.

    3. Annihilator

      Re: I don't Tweet, but... why is Twitter *keeping* a history?

      Twitter keeps a history because it's the nature of Twitter, it's how it works, much like Facebook. That I can understand.

      But why Twitter keeps a history of deleted tweets/users I have no idea, and find a bit worrying.

      1. Tel Starr

        Re: I don't Tweet, but... why is Twitter *keeping* a history?

        Probably because if they didn't comply with the various data retention acts, and the requirement to hold onto any none transient data associated with a person, their whole operation would be shut down.

        This deleted data will\must still exist on backups, which could be the actual source of these recovered tweets, and possibly not from the active system itself.

  2. Stuart Grout

    Alternative option

    If Twitter didn't keep a copy of posts after the user has asked to delete them then there would be no problem. There would be nothing there to be handed over if Twitter behaved as users expected it to rather than trying to retain everything after it has served it's intended purpose.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Alternative option

      . . . if Twitter behaved as users expected . . .

      I think that's a key point. I understand the Judge's statement regarding little expectation of privacy for a tweet which is world readable, but I do feel that Twitter is being deceptive when "delete" doesn't mean what it normally means.

  3. Remy Redert

    re: Alternative option

    So if someone deletes a tweet, you're expecting Twitter to go back through all of its backups to delete the tweet as well? I don't normally even do that for files I delete in backed up folders when the back up is attached or live on the server, let alone going through my archives to delete every single instance of the file.

    Then there's also the issue of Google cache and a number of other caching sites (Internet archive anyone?). Twitter should act as the user expects it to, so change the 'delete' to 'Make slightly harder to find'. Let's face it, once you post something on the internet be it via Twitter, Facebook or your own website, it's there to stay and there's nothing you can do about it any more in the same way you can't unsend an e-mail or stop a snail mail letter from going out once you post it.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: re: Alternative option

      Twitter is less like the equivalent of shouting out of a window (which has no reasonable expectation of privacy, but DOES have a reasonable expectation of the audience being limited to the immediate vicinity, and some element of non-persistence), and more like writing your thoughts on a giant advertising billboard by a busy freeway, where huge numbers of people can see it, not only at the moment it is put up, but also at every subsequent moment until it is taken down

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