Twitter recently released its bi-annual transparency report, detailing the number of requests that the company has received from governments for user information or to take down content.  According to the report, the company received 1,157 requests for user information in the first six months of 2013, the highest amount since Twitter began releasing its report.  Twitter reports that 78% of the requests came from United States sources, and globally the company provided some or all information requested in 55% of cases. Continue Reading Twitter Releases Bi-Annual Transparency Report

Earlier this week, Twitter appealed a New York state judge’s ruling that required the company to produce an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s tweets, email address, and certain subscriber information.  The trial court judge had reasoned that the public nature of Twitter meant that the defendant lacked privacy interests in his tweets and that the government’s

Twitter has announced that it will appeal a New York state judge’s ruling that the company must hand over an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s tweets to the Manhattan district attorney.  The defendant was charged with disorderly conduct for his participation in a protest march in October 1, 2011.  Following that incident, the district attorney subpoenaed Twitter for the defendant’s tweets over several months in the fall of 2011.  The defendant unsuccessfully challenged the subpoena in trial court, and Twitter is taking up the appeal.    

The trial court judge found that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to the government’s subpoena.  The defendant had no privacy interests in his tweets, the judge held, because of the public nature of the Twitter platform.  Pointing out that the “very nature and purpose of Twitter” is to share messages with a broad online audience, the judge concluded that the “defendant’s contention that he has privacy interests in his Tweets . . . [is] without merit.”Continue Reading Twitter to Appeal NY Ruling that It Must Hand over Occupy Protestor’s Tweets

by David Fagan and Alex Berengaut

On November 10, 2011, Judge Liam O’Grady of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a 60-page memorandum opinion in a dispute over the validity of a special court order issued to Twitter for non-content records for certain users connected to the government’s Wikileaks

New York start-up SocialGuide has launched from beta and released its first television ratings report this week, based on information mined and filtered from more than 10.5 million social media comments by more than 2.6 million unique users.  This report, the Social100, gets most of its information from Facebook and Twitter, using application programming interface (“API”) streams to

Your company has just launched an innovative new social media service, and you’ve received fanfare from the press, increased website traffic, and a spike in advertising revenues.  In short, the service is a complete success — until you’re served with a class action complaint seeking millions of dollars in damages and a civil investigative demand from the FTC.  What did you do wrong, and what can you do to get out of this mess?

That’s the question that I recently explored as a part of a panel at the summer meeting of the Virginia Bar Association on the benefits and risks of social media.  On the panel, we discussed the many ways that social media has influenced law and policy over the past few months and highlighted what businesses and their lawyers need to understand about privacy issues online in order to avoid litigation and regulatory enforcement.

One of the main reasons that companies face litigation and investigations in the social media area is that they haven’t fully evaluated the information that they are collecting through social media and how that information is (or could be) used.  That is why the discussion on privacy today is coalescing around the concept of “privacy by design,” which Kashmir Hill at Forbes recently described as companies “bak[ing] privacy into their products” rather than considering privacy only reactively.  (You can read more about privacy by design here.)Continue Reading Social Media: Legal Risks and Rewards

The Office of Fair Trading, the UK’s answer to the FTC, has established its position on paid-for plugging on social media websites.  According to an announcement issued last month by the OFT relating to an enforcement action pursued against a small UK media firm, online advertising and marketing that fails to disclose that it contains paid-for promotions