Sep 052012
 September 5, 2012  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Online, U.S.

Somini Sengupta reports:

Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter’s chief lawyer, says that fighting for free speech is more than a good idea. He thinks it is a competitive advantage for his company.

That conviction explains why he spends so much of Twitter’s time and money going toe to toe with officers and apparatchiks both here and abroad. Last week, his legal team was fighting a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protester’s Twitter posts. The week before, the team wrestled with Indian government officials seeking to take down missives they considered inflammatory. Last year, Mr. Macgillivray challenged the Justice Department in its hunt for WikiLeaks supporters who used Twitter to communicate.

Read more on New York Times.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I am a big fan of Twitter’s. It is the only social media platform I have ever used, in large part due to its commitment to user privacy and free speech. And in 2011, this blog and blogger helped spearhead a “Thank Twitter” campaign to recognize them as Company of the Year for standing up for user privacy.

But as the NYT article notes, it’s not always smooth sailing. In order to monetize their service, Twitter has partnered with certain re-sellers who can glom up your tweets. Users were not asked to consent to that, and to avoid it, users would have to manually go back and delete all their tweets periodically.

But if users own their tweets and content, as Twitter has argued in court in the Malcolm Harris case, and if tweets that are no longer publicly available revert to “private” and not “public,” as Twitter has also seemingly argued in court, doesn’t the fact that the tweets are now in the hands of these businesses prove that they are not truly “private” or that the user isn’t the sole owner of the content?

I wish @amac would explain this seeming inconsistency between their arguments to the court and their actions. If I own my content (tweets), how is it you just sold my content to your partners? And how can you argue that my tweets become “private” again after they scroll away in time if they live on in your certified partners’ databases? Didn’t Twitter just make it easier for the government to obtain our tweets by simply asking businesses to turn over our content without any subpoena or judicial oversight required?

Talk to us, Mac. Please.

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