Twitter allows its users to post their messages in the form of ‘tweets’, which are brief messages with a 140 maximum character count. The user chooses what to include in their tweets and those tweets are considered the personal material of the user. Under the Twitter Terms of Service, the user’s account and the material posted on that account is owned by the user, regardless of their value (Twitter 2016). Twitter does have guidelines and restrictions to manage what is posted on Twitter, in order to moderate risks. Some material is restricted and obscured and can also be removed if it breaks The Twitter Rules (Twitter 2016).
Ownership of content
Tweets have a number of details that can be used to identify the creator and owner of a tweet. In Figure 1, the username and official name can be seen at the top of the tweet. To the left of the name is the user’s profile picture. Under the content of the tweet is the date and time that the user posted that tweet. Replies to a tweet appear under the primary tweet and include the other user’s name and date, while their message typically contains the original user’s tweet. Some tweets can also include the geographical location of the user as another means of identification (Hinton & Hjorth 2013, pp. 50). All of this information is used to demonstrate who created and who owned the tweet in question.
Moderation of risks
Twitter has a list of guidelines and rules that users must follow so that their tweets aren’t removed or their accounts aren’t banned. Under the Content Boundaries of Twitter, tweets that contain “pornographic or excessively violent content” or “gratuitous images of death” must be concealed, as seen in Figure 2 (Twitter 2016).
Tweets are also not allowed to include the following:
- Violent threats (direct or indirect)
- Hateful conduct
- Multiple account abuse
- Private information
Hinton, S & Hjorth, L 2013, Understanding social media, Sage Publications Ltd, London
Twitter 2016, The Twitter rules, viewed 22 August 2016, https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311
Twitter 2016, Twitter terms of service, viewed 22 August 2016, https://twitter.com/tos?lang=en