Monday, September 29, 2008

Should What Happens on Twitter Stay on Twitter?

Yesterday I posted Twitter updates (aka tweets) from people I follow as a way to recap Friday night's Presidential debate. Re-reading that post today, I began to wonder if I had broken some sort of unspoken Twitter code.

The tweets I posted were all PG-rated, although given the sensitive nature of politics, it's quite possible some folks would find them offensive.

Now nearly all of the people I follow on Twitter are folks I know personally and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't mind me posting their tweets. But there are a couple peeps I only know via Twitter and certainly don't know them well enough to gauge their comfort with me broadcasting their tweetstream.

Methinks this situation mirrors the larger question of privacy on the web. In today's Facebook society, where people are willing to share the most intimate details about themselves with their network, is what's entered on the web part of the public record for all to consume?

When Twitter first launched it was positioned as a micro-blogging platform. Blogs, by nature, are typically intended as broadcast vehicles although some blogging tools like Live Journal allow you to restrict access (aka narrowcast) to a pre-approved list of people.

So what exactly is Twitter etiquette?

I'm sending a link to post out to the folks whose tweets I shared to see what they think. Will report back and, of course, remove any offending tweets upon request.

Update: Well, the Tweetards have weighed in and the ayes have it -- 5 for 5 in favor of all tweets being fair game. There was some mention of not sharing tweets from "locked" Twitter accounts. I didn't even realize that was possible. Here's the 411:

aarongoldman @jeffmarshall, roger that. Thx. Good thing you keep your tweets clean. :) from BeTwittered in reply to jeffmarshall

jeffmarshall @aarongoldman top right corner person's profile page (by name) pad lock symbol; mine only locked for location security, u can use any :) from web in reply to aarongoldman

aarongoldman @jeffmarshall, how do I know if an acct is locked or unlocked? from BeTwittered in reply to jeffmarshall

jeffmarshall @aarongoldman if the twtr'r has an unlocked twtr acct, should be free game. Otherwise, could be poor form depending on the content. from txt in reply to aarongoldman

aarongoldman Posted tweets from peeps I follow on my blog. Wondering if that was poor form? Is what happens on Twitter supposed to stay on Twitter? from BeTwittered


Jeff Marshall said...

It's an interesting question. I did a cursory search for Emily Post on Twitter and didn't find her... It's debatable, but as stated in my twit, if their twitter acct isn't locked, it's public record. If their acct is locked, it's probably debatable, but I would lean toward asking permission or assuming you shouldn't share - probably the worst thing that would happen is that you would be blocked from that person's tweets (and that's only if they found you out).

I'm interested in other's opinions.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree with Jeff. Once it's out there you've effectively published it, Summize (twitter search) and Google have it.

Can probably take a page from blogging etiquette as well

Brian Morrissey said...

I'm with Jeff on this one. At this point, it should be clear that what you post on the Internet is by definition public unless you take steps to making it private. The interesting thing with Twitter is that it's so spontaneous that inevitably you'll post something you regret, much more so than a more considered medium like a blog. For good or bad, lots of people are choosing to live more 'public' existences. There are consequences -- good, bad and unintended -- to that.

Anonymous said...

Unless the person's tweets are protected, they should absolutely expect that every tweet will be seen by the world. Retweeting is so common that many twitter apps offer one-touch retweeting capabilities. Tweets also frequently show up in Google search results as well as through other apps which republish tweets on specific topics or from specific locales.

Anonymous said...

Google indexes Twitter, so if you Twitter (unlocked), then your Tweets are fair game for fair use (citation). But the best rule is the one you "should" follow for email: don't communicate anything in email that you wouldn't be comfortable sharing with everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Somehow this didn't show up in my normal Twitter monitoring, but I'd have been 6 for 6.

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