We’re all familiar with the Miranda, the legal warning given to everyone who runs a foul of the law. But it might be time to add a few lines to that warning, including, “anything you Tweet can and will be used against you.”
Twitter just released their first Transparency Report and it includes 849 data requests from law enforcement in the first half of this year. Twitter granted 63% of those requests and those numbers on are on the rise. Twitter says they received more government requests in the first half of 2012, than they received in all of 2011.
None of these numbers should be surprising. Cases where social media has been called into evidence pop up in the news all the time. Some people get what they deserve, like the guy who posted a photo on Facebook of him stealing gas from a local police car. But social media posts are also being used to help win (or lose) divorce cases, custody cases, even (in hopefully rare cases), a murder conviction.
The other side of this coin is privacy. People who hide their identity with a phony Twitter handle expect their real name will be kept private. Silly people. How many times have I got to tell you that nothing on the internet is private?
Twitter requests for data don’t end at the US border. The charts show they’ve turned over data to Japan, Canada, The Netherlands, Greece, Australia, and the UK.
In addition to government requests, Twitters Transparency Report also lists the instances of DMCA takedown notices. They received 3,378 requests to remove copyright materials and that’s just from the first half of the year.
On average, they granted the request 38% of the time, which isn’t that much. Gotta wonder if many of the requests are bogus or Twitter simply didn’t have the man power to chase it all down. One thing working it their favor is the short lifespan of a Tweet. Chasing a user for a video they posted a year ago is pointless.
Twitter says that going forward, they’ll update these figures twice a year. If you want more details on how these requests are handled, they have a section in the Help Center on that.
Overall lesson, don’t post anything to Twitter that you wouldn’t say out loud in a room full of people, you just never know who might be listening.