Everyone screws up and occasionally tweets something they shouldn’t. Thanks to services like Topsy, deleting your 140-character flub has never been a foolproof way of erasing your misdeed, but we always thought it was good enough to keep us from getting busted. Now a judge says even deleted tweets can be used against you in court. Stop tweeting illegal stuff people!
Yesterday, Judge Matthew Sciarrino ruled that your tweets really aren’t yours to banish from history. The Village Voice reports that New York prosecutors are trying to nail Malcolm Harris for his participation in Occupy Wall Street actions last year. Harris was among the throngs that stormed the Brooklyn Bridge, and like a fool, he tweeted all about his misdeeds. (Harris is also the dude behind the Radiohead concert hoax that drew masses to downtown New York.) He later deleted the tweets, but they lived on in Twitter’s servers. In the ruling, Judge Sciarrino says that though we think those tweets are ours to delete, they’re really entirely the property of Twitter as a third-party service. Prosecutors can gobble them up and use them to nail us for crimes without your consent.
While the basis of the ruling is questionable, this should be a solid reminder to everyone out there that everything we post online will haunt you forever and ever. Always operate under the assumption that your mum, your boss and the cops will see everything you post. [Village Voice]