On January 22, 2016, Justice Knazan acquitted Gregory Alan Elliott of criminal harassment using Twitter. A tweet is 140 characters – the decision is 84 pages long. It is not succinct, because it is new territory. Applying the criminal law to the social media frontier required a thorough investigation of the medium, the players and the law of harassment.
The decision, appropriately, turns on the facts. However, in reviewing the nature and extent of the interactions on Twitter, and the very nature of Twitter, Justice Knazan does give us some blunt guidance on social media privacy:
“Twitter is not private, by definition and in its essence….To subscribe to Twitter and keep your account open is to waive your right to privacy in your tweets. Arranging a meeting or social event using tweets other than direct messages is like inviting strangers into your home or onto your phone line while you talk to your friends.”
Your parents were right – the internet won’t protect your privacy – it is all up to you.