If You Say Something In Public, You Can Be Quoted And If You Say Something On Twitter, That's Public

from the in-case-you-were-confused dept

It seems that plenty of people are still having trouble understanding that most things posted to Twitter are posted in public. Apparently a local newspaper in Michigan ran into some angry community members when a writer for the paper dared to quote some Twitter comments without first contacting the people in question for permission. The newspaper stands by its usage of the comments, noting that they're fair game, and Caroline McCarthy over at News.com (where I found the original story) makes the point succinctly:
But here's somewhere to start: If something is public, it's quotable. If you don't want to be quoted, don't say it on the Internet. If you have a public Twitter account and say something, then, yes, it's public. Should Twitter users expect to be contacted and asked for permission to have their tweets reprinted? Don't count on it.
Still, as noted, it is interesting to see how people seem to perceive something like Twitter as being more private. I'm guessing that may change over time, but it does suggest the sort of level of intimacy that Twitter creates among many people who use it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Zauber Paracelsus (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 9:43pm

    Now, if those people had their twitter timelines set to private, then they might have a case.

     

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  2.  
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    MicroSourcing, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:03pm

    That said, Twitter can be a public relations tool. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on who's using it. A lot of public figures would get better press if they stayed away from Twitter.

     

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  3.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:09pm

    Exposing Privates

    Tweet = half way between twat and seat
    (use a bad-taste-band-aid if offended)

    Hopefully these angry people have learned their practical lesson. Once it's on the open internet, consider it permanently public, period. This is just common sense. If you want to keep something private, make the extra effort to ensure privacy (and get a gold star sticker) or use a secure medium. I'm sure I've said plenty of stupid things on the internet (including in this post), but the price of such a wonderful tool is its very, very, very long memory.

    Also, having now read the "tweets" myself... Streisand Effect.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:17pm

    If people would have problem quoting other's twitter commant, people cannot retweet.

    If you know your commet can be retweeted, you probably should treat your words as in public in the first place.

     

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  5.  
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    Atkray (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:18pm

    Correction

    "it does suggest the sort of level of intimacy that Twitter creates among many people who use it."

    it does suggest the sort of level of understanding of technology among the many people who use Twitter.


    FTFY

     

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  6.  
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    Kevin, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:30pm

    If you do not want the public to know what you are doing, or something you said then it was a bad idea to post it publicly on the internet.

     

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  7.  
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    MrWilson, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:40pm

    I think there are a lot of people who ignorantly subscribe to delightfully humorous internet mythology, such as security through obscurity, or in this case, privacy through obscurity.

    I had a conversation with a customer years ago when I worked a job supporting a website. She asked, "I don't really need a password, do I? I mean, someone else would have to be on my computer to use my account anyway, right?"

    In this scenario, I imagine that they feel like it's private because they only have 20 followers and they're not thinking about the fact that more than just your followers can read your public tweets.

     

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  8.  
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    anonymoose, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 10:40pm

    So this is where it gets interesting...

    If the LV papers pull a tweet and print it as a quote in the newspaper without permission of the author, can RightHaven be sued for copyright infringement (as the responsible 'owner' of the paper's published works containing the infringing content)?

    Twitter is a form of publishing text to the internet (public, but still original writing protected by copyright). This would be a fun one to test. After all, making a broadcast public, showing a movie in public or putting a newspaper's content on the internet is all public - shouldn't that also be fair game for others to quote? If that's the definition being used for pulling a quote from twitter, why should content lifting only go one way? :)

    Just seems to be an inconsistent position for a newspaper to take, all things considered.

     

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  9.  
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    Christer, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 11:54pm

    How 'bout "direct" messages

    A tweet is public from the moment it's submitted, yes.

    But twitter also offers a service they call "direct messages" - and that's something else.

    People may think they have good reason to believe these direct messages are private.

    I believe, however, that these are legally the property of Twitter Inc, for them to pass on to whomever they want.

     

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  10.  
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    Mateo Jose (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 11:58pm

    Re:

    Agreed. I'm really tired of people complaining about their privacy being violated online. If you don't want anyone to see your tweets or photos on Facebook...DON'T POST THEM! Ever! Even if you have a private account.. things can happen. Remember that one day (two years ago) when everyone on Facebook lost their privacy settings? Hmmm?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:14am

    Displaying tweets on another platform breaks the Twitter terms.

    "Except as permitted through the Services (or these Terms), you have to use the Twitter API if you want to reproduce, modify, create derivative works, distribute, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, or otherwise use the Content or Services."

     

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  12.  
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    PW (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:22am

    Re: Correction

    Or it suggests that a lot of people are idiots ;)

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:28am

    Re: Re: Correction

    Catching! Winner!

    You win for the most redundant comment, ironically calling other stupid LoL

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:31am

    Re:

    You know those terms are unenforceable right?

     

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  15.  
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    Ted Burner, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:58am

    Twitter is not Private

    Your comments on Twitter are not private and you should be careful to not make comments that are compromising.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 2:44am

    Re: Re:

    Just pointing out that newspapers *should* ask for permission.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:26am

    Re: Re: Correction

    You stole my name, you idiot! That'll be 30,000, please. :D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Excuse me?

    "...you have to use the Twitter API if you want to [blah blah blah]"

    Does not imply:

    "...that newspapers *should* ask for permission."

    It only implies that they should've used the twitter API to reproduce the tweets. Nowhere in the Twitter TOS does it say that you cannot reproduce the tweets, however. In fact, they WARN that:

    "You are responsible for your use of the Services, for any content you post to the Services, and for any consequences thereof. The Content you submit, post, or display will be able to be viewed by other users of the Services and through third party services and websites (go to the account settings page to control who sees your Content). You should only provide Content that you are comfortable sharing with others under these Terms."

    Source: http://twitter.com/tos

    This seems to indicate that, unless you specifically set the privacy options, your tweets are public (everyone can see them). If they are public, they are "quotable".

     

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  19.  
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    ElSteevo (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 5:26am

    people who ignorantly subscribe

    The only thing that most of these people subscribe to is the motto "Ignorance is bliss."

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Twitter ToS also states I'm the sole owner of my tweets.

    *My* tweets are displayed on a page at the guardian.co.uk, but someone working at the section they appear in had the decency to ask first.

    I'm glad more people read what I have to say, AND the guardian is using my tweets with my knowledge & approval.

    This local newspaper in Michigan : #lazyfucks

     

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  21.  
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    Shon Gale (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 6:18am

    I agree. If you have a private option and you want it to be private then select it. Otherwise stop whining about it. It really is getting old all this discourse about privacy that does not exist. Maybe there is some in your bathroom.

     

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  22.  
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    bill long, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 7:25am

    please dont...

    Please do not quote this comment without permission

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    They didn't display the tweet, just a copy of the text of the tweet, the actual tweet is still on twitter, go check!

    AKA: I'll see your conflation and raise you an extra conflation

     

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  24.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Exposing Privates

    I actually like the idea of having to contact the person before quoting their tweets.

    Just imagine how little we would hear from Ms. Palin if this were the case...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Fair Use:
    "Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. 106 and 17 U.S.C. 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

    Nothing here nor in Twitter's ToS dictates that someone copying your tweets must ask for permission to reproduce your tweets in a manner that constitutes as fair use. Calling them lazy fucks when they're reporting on something that is occurring right at that moment is silly. Public is public. Get over it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    David Liu (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Re: Exposing Privates

    At best, only used as a courtesy notification (which this reporter did).

    If we required people to get permission for everything, we wouldn't be able to be any sort of commentary, criticism, news reporting, etc. on lots of things because people would just refuse permissions.

    That's why we have fair use clauses in our copyright laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:31pm

    Re: please dont...

    Please do not quote this comment without permission


    Now what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:22pm

    What was the point again?

    Wasn't copyright supposed to protect "art"? Conversations on twitter, or any other publicly accessible site, is almost the same as any other everyday speech. The only difference is that a verbal conversation is transient--and thus not copyrightable. However, it's doubtful that many people would consider a random conversation to be "art". But now the mere act of recording or transcribing a conversation makes it "copyrighted". Is any random expression of ideas now considered "art" once it's been fixed?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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