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Tweeting Privately?

Twitter legal imageIs Tweeting private? In an ongoing case  brought against Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris, Twitter acquiesced to the order of Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. in turning over the private data of Mr. Harris. “But the judge said he would keep the records sealed until after a Sept. 21 hearing challenging his ruling on the messages” according to an article in the Washington Post.  What privacy, if any, is covered by social media posts?

There is no doubt that this case will be closely watched by law enforcement and other social media platforms, and the outcome Occupy Wall Streetproviding an initial impact with ongoing rippling effects for years to come.  However, when you sign up to and post statements, organize and motivate others on social medias sites — Twitter, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, or others —  I can not stress the importance of people being aware that their personal information — as well as their posts — are in a public forum and therefore can have no expectation of privacy.

What this means is though your personal info is considered private, and said social networks (depending on their individual privacy agreements) do not usually disclose your personal info to third parties without your consent, the same may not hold true when confronted with a legal proceeding.

In domestic violence hearings, assault cases, divorce, child custody and harassment cases much time is spent introducing evidence of witnesses Facebook and Twitter posts.

A good rule of thumb: whenever you post a message, ask yourself if you’re O.K. with the idea that beyond the intended reader(s) that that message may become public.  Consider the implications of what you say and do from a legal standpoint — am I inciting actions beyond the law, saying or implying things I would be embarrassed about — i.e. Andrew Wiener’s sexual trolling.

Social media is changing the way we think, share and educate, but in the end, regardless of technology, the implications of what one does or says is always going to be subject to abiding by the laws in place.  Therefore, whether in person or through digital media,always be prepared for any potential consequences for your actions.

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