TWITTER: A POLICY PRIMER
NET303 Assignment 2a
It is not legal advice and should not be taken as such advice.
Your agreement with Twitter
• You agreed to the Terms of Service (TOS) when you signed up. Agreement is automatic (Meeder, Tam, Kelley & Cranor, 2010, p. 2).
• The TOS are only part of your agreement with Twitter. They also refer to separate documents (Twitter, 2012, section 12C) covering:
o Usage rules (Twitter, 2012, section 5)
o As well as a number of other documents (such as rules for developers).
The TOS are fairly lenient towards users. The fact that what you post is immediately available and viewable worldwide by anyone is clearly signposted (Twitter, 2012, section 1). You also keep rights to the content you post (Twitter, 2012, section 5) but note the clarification below.
• You agree to the TOS simply by using Twitter, whether you read them or not (Twitter, 2012, para 1).
• You agreed to Twitter using your data (and metadata such as logins, IP addresses, links clicked and so on) in any way it wants to (Twitter, 2012, section 1).
• Anything you post, though, still remains solely your responsibility (Twitter, 2012, section 4).
• You keep the rights to your content but still grant Twitter “a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)” (Twitter, 2012, section 5). You, however, remain liable for any such use by Twitter (and related third parties).
• While Twitter can do whatever they want with your content, you may not infringe on their copyright, trade marks, etc (Twitter, 2012, section 7).
• The agreement is subject to the laws of California, USA (Twitter, 2012, section 12B). Any legal action will be brought in that state only. How familiar are you with US and California law?
Why does this matter?
• Your data is there forever, and easily searchable (Lessig, 1998, p. 10).
• Linking separate pieces of information might identify you (Barbaro & Zeller, 2006) or reveal information you want kept private (Jernigan & Mistree, 2009).
• Each piece of information may be small, but the aggregate may be revealing (Humphreys, Gill & Krishamurthy, 2010, p. 11).
• Your details can be revealed through legal means:
o Requests for user information are increasing rapidly (Shih, 2013).
o Over half of data requests to Twitter are at least partially successful (Twitter, 2013a).
You consent to being tracked via cookies, including on related third party websites, as well as allowing Twitter to store copious ‘log data’ including metadata about how and when and what you access.
At a very basic (but often unstated) level, social media are constrained by
• The underlying code (what it allows, what it doesn’t).
• The terms and conditions imposed by companies, governments and other authorities (what is permitted, what isn’t) (Youmans & York, 2012, p. 316).
Twitter differs from other social media since the default is to make everything as public as possible (Powell, 2011, p. 166). Being on Twitter is like living your life in a glass house (Semitsu, 2011, p. 378).
Knowledge is power.
• Think before you tweet.
• Understand what Twitter is doing with your tweets and the information it collects (and distributes) about you.
• What might be the consequences of your tweet? To you? To others? In the future?
• Twitter retains much of the power in your agreement, while you retain most of the liability.
Barbaro, M., & Zeller, Jr, T. (2006, August 9). A face is exposed for AOL searcher No. 4417749. The New York Times. New York. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/technology/09aol.html?_r=1&ei…epag&adxnnlx=1155326605-/1FEV853bC3qmtoZgsF3hw&pagewanted=print
Humphreys, L., Gill, P., & Krishnamurthy, B. (2010). How much is too much? Privacy issues on Twitter (pp. 1–29). Presented at the Conference of International Communication Association, Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.research.att.com/~bala/papers/ica10.pdf
Jernigan, C., & Mistree, B. (2009). Gaydar: Facebook friendships expose sexual orientation. First Monday, 14(10). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2611/2302
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Meeder, B., Tam, J., Kelley, G., & Cranor, L. (2010). RT @IWantPrivacy: Widespread violation of privacy settings in the Twitter social network (pp. 1–12). Presented at the Web 2.0 Privacy and Security Workshop, IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, California. Retrieved from http://w2spconf.com/2010/papers/p28.pdf
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Powell, C. (2011). “You already have zero privacy. Get over it!” Would Warren and Brandeis argue for privacy for social networking?,. Pace Law Review, 31(1), 146–181.
Semitsu, J. (2011). From Facebook to mug shot: How the dearth of social networking privacy rights revolutionized online government surveillance. Pace Law Review, 31(1), 291–381.
Shih, G. (2013). Government requests for Twitter users’ data on the rise. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/01/us-twitter-data-idUSBRE97002M20130801
Twitter. (2012). Terms of service. Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/tos
Twitter. (2013a). Information requests. Retrieved from https://transparency.twitter.com/information-requests/2013/jan-jun
Twitter. (2013b). Twitter logo [image]. Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/logo
Twitter Help Center. (2013). The Twitter rules. Twitter. Retrieved from https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules#
Wyant, A.-M. (2012). Loose tweets sink fleets [image]. 920th Rescue Wing. Retrieved from http://www.920rqw.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123317247
Youmans, W., & York, J. (2012). Social media and the activist toolkit: User agreements, corporate interests, and the information infrastructure of modern social movements. Journal of Communication, 62, 315–329. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01636.x