PCC ruling says Twitter is not private and fair game for the Daily Mail
In case there was any doubt, your Twitter feed is now officially fair game for any tabloid hack with some space to fill. That’s because the Press Complaints Commission has said in an historic ruling — the first it has made regarding republication of information originating from Twitter — that it is not upholding complaints made by a tweeter about stories that ran in the Daily Mail and the Independent on Sunday.
The complaints were made by Sarah Baskerville, otherwise known as @baskers, sparked by a story that the Daily Mail concocted and the Independent on Sunday followed up.
The Daily Mail’s story ran with the headline “Oh please, stop this twit from Tweeting, someone” and was critical of Baskerville because she worked as a civil servant at the Department of Transport and dared to use her Twitter feed to “describe some aspects of her job and her feelings towards her work”, as the PCC puts it.
Understandably, Baskerville objected to the Daily Mail’s story (which generated widespread support for her on Twitter) and took her complaint to the PCC on the grounds that it intruded into her privacy and was misleading.
Much as you sympathise with Baskerville’s beef that admitting to being at work with a hangover was hardly in the public interest or worthy of repeating in a national newspaper, it’s also difficult to see that the PCC could have ruled that Twitter (and other social networking sites, blogs and so on) is private.
More of a surprise is that the PCC has also rejected the complaint about accuracy, given that Daily Mail’s defence was that it could only quote selected tweets because of space, but that is probably a subject for another blog post about press self-regulation.