Twitter has been ordered to turn over the public Tweets of Occupy Wall Street protestor Malcolm Harris. The ruling is not surprising since the Tweets were previously public and anyone with Internet access could view them. The Tweets are no longer available online; however, they have been saved on Twitter's servers. Twitter and Harris' attorney have been trying to quash the Manhattan district attorney's subpoena demanding the Tweets but have been unsuccessful.
On April 23, 2012, I stated that, "Once a Tweet is public to the entire world you don't have an expectation of privacy even if the Tweet has been deleted. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner learned the hard way (no pun intended) that once you post something publicly you have no expectation of privacy.
On July 3, 2012, I stated that, "If the Tweets had been on a protected Twitter account then a warrant may have been required to access the Tweets. In general, I have no problem with law enforcement obtaining and utilizing social media evidence. However, the government must go through the proper legal channels to obtain, authenticate, and utilize social media evidence at trial.
While I applaud Twitter fighting for the digital privacy rights of its users, I believe that continuing to fight a subpoena for content that was once public is a losing battle. However, I believe that Twitter along with other social media companies should continue fighting for the personal privacy rights of its users.
To learn how social media intersects with the law you may contact me at http://shearlaw.com/attorney_profile.
Copyright 2012 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.