Twitter Policy Primer: What you need to know before clicking 'I Agree'.


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Prior to signing up to a Social Networking Service, have you ever stopped to read through the Terms of Service or User License Agreements? What information is hidden in all those pages of fine-print? This presentation seeks out to explain, in laymans terms, all of the nitty-gritty associated with Twitters Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, presenting the main points about what do do and what not to do when registering as a new member.

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  • I enjoyed watching your Policy Primer on Twitter’s terms of service. I was very interested in the content; it is good to know the policies and conditions, as Twitter is part of my daily life, it is may cause problems for users who did not bother to take the time to read the terms before registering. I have found that the terms of Twitter close to the terms of Facebook I agree that 95 per cent of social networking users do not understand the importance of reading the terms of service. Users should keep in mind that Twitter is a public forum and, like the content of its tweets could be visible to the public through other social networking sites, such as Facebook, blogs, and other accounts that may be linked to it (Fitton, Gruen, & Poston, 2010). The user must be aware of these conditions and be warned that what he writes may become public. Twitter may be more risky than other social sites, as people talk about anything and everything from updating their situation to engaging in political debates or social matters through a hashtag or even when someone retweets your tweet for those who have not know us. Goettke (2007) states that the problems come from individuals who are not aware of the significance of the information they provide, for example, these days it is possible for someone to determine your current location when you post a tweet. People frequently use this feature without realizing that it could lead to crimes (J. Drucker, 2010). As you mentioned in your presentation, it’s so important to educate the Internet users on the importance of these terms. However, I also see that it is the user’s right to know if these conditions have been updated or changed (Goettke 2007).

    Fitton, Laura, Gruen, Michael, Poston, & Leslie. (2010). Twitter For Dummies. Indiana: John Wiley & Sons.
    Goettke, R., & Christiana, J. (2007). Privacy and Online Social Networking Websites. Computer Science 199r: Special Topics in Computer Science Computation and Society: Privacy and Technology. Accessed from
    J. Drucker, Susan. (2010). Regulating Convergence. New York: Peter Lang.
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  • This is a great overview of Twitter’s terms of use. There are a number of similarities between Twitter and the service that I reviewed, Wikipedia (see Both are open platforms, as you noted in your comments on my primer. The ’think before you tweet’ mantra holds true for Wikipedia also, as you need to pay particular attention to copyright, the accuracy of information you are posting as well as that the content is not abusive, malicious or unlawful (Wikimedia Foundation, 2012; Twitter, 2012). You provided some excellent examples of how comments made online can impact users both online (suspension/termination of service) and offline. Users must be mindful before posting/tweeting.
    It’s interesting to note that a seemingly common thread amongst these Web2.0 services is that if you do not agree to the terms of use then one cannot use the service. Seems there is no negotiation of terms between users and service providers as there would be in most offline contractual agreements. In the case of Valve Software’s online gaming platform, Steam, users even face financial costs if they do not agree to changes in terms of service (resulting in a cancellation of their account) – see However Wikipedia differs in that users are given a minimum 30 days notice and encouraged to comment on any proposed major changes to its terms of use (Wikimedia, 2012). I was interested to learn (via the article that Vicky referenced in her comment here) that the ‘TOS;DR’ project (see - lead believes that the Wikipedia process of obtaining feedback from users on changes to terms of use should be ‘best practice’ for the web (Finley, 2012).
    Finley, K. (2012). Putting An End To The Biggest Lie On The Internet. Techcrunch. Retrieved from
    Twitter. (2012). The Rules. Retrieved from
    Wikimedia Foundation. (2012). Terms of Use. Retrieved from
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  • Twitter, like Pinterest and Google distance themselves from responsibility of what users post; although they all reserve the right to remove content at their own discretion. Twitter is different to Pinterest and Google in that users can use pseudonyms, although I am not sure if this necessarily equates to anonymity. I did note the mention that users are responsible for content they post even when used by third parties which is an additional variant on the Pinterest and Google terms but could have ramifications for the user. Twitter also seem to make users ‘opt in’ to their terms and policies by making users click ‘I agree’ and although this is agreed to by the majority of users without reading, as they say biggest lie on the Internet (Linley, 2012), it still does at least put the terms into the line of vision of the user. I think that this is particularly relevant when there are changes of terms/policies. Google (see my primer ) say that they publish/advertise changes, but as a Google user, I do not recall seeing anything (in any of my accounts/services that I use) other than media reports regarding their latest changes (1/3/2012). I think that users need to be shown the importance of developing awareness of these terms and policies, but organisations need to be transparent about the presence of them and in particular any changes or updates.

    I think your point regarding privacy and users not sharing other users’ personal information is valid; much is written about organisations and privacy but privacy breaches can occur through unexpected sources, such as friends or acquaintances. Boyd (2010) argues that privacy is not simply a matter of access but is linked to deeper awareness and understanding of social norms – online norms are not fully developed or widely spread. Twitter is a networked sharing platform and users should be selective of the content of their tweets, particularly when it relates to others.

    boyd, d. (2010, September/October) Why privacy is not dead. Technology Review, MIT. Retrieved 23/8/2012 from:

    Finley, K. (2012, August 13) Putting an end to the biggest lie on the internet. Techcrunch. Retrieved 30/8/2012 from:
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Twitter Policy Primer: What you need to know before clicking 'I Agree'.

  1. 1.
  2. 2. What you need to know before clicking “I Agree”. A guide by Sian CooperThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Australia License.
  3. 3. Firstly, what is Twitter?Twitter is a Social Networking Service that allows its users to post ‘Tweets’ containing 140 characters or less. Anybody over the age of 13 years can register for their own Twitter account. As long as you meet the minimum agerequirement, you can be anything you want to be on Twitter… Even a pigeon!
  4. 4. Prior to becoming an active user, you must agree to Twitters Terms of Service
  5. 5. Did you know that approximately95% of people do not read through a ‘Terms of Service’ statement before clicking - Leaver, 2009.
  6. 6. What have you just agreed to?
  7. 7. Well… Firstly, Twitter is an open platform meaning that anything you post on Twitter can be broadcast to a wider audience… the general public… third party services and websites… virtually anybody that has access to the internet worldwide. n/photostream
  8. 8. Why is it important to think before you Tweet? Although cyberspace is a virtual place where you cannot physically see the audience that will view the content that you post online… always remember that you have a worldwide audience. YOU are responsible for the content that you post online.
  9. 9. Tips: Try not to use offensive language, post misleading information or harmful content, share copyrighted images orpornographic material. These things may get you into trouble!
  10. 10. Things that may get you into trouble… Recently, a “troll scandal” broke out on Twitter which resulted in an employee being suspended from her position at Monash University. She sent a Tweet to TV presenter Charlotte Dawson which read “If I was your fiancé Id hang myself too #gohangyourself” (Byrnes, 2012).
  11. 11. Suicide taunts and other forms of harassment are notcondoned on Twitter, and may place you in breach ofTwitter’s rules and regulations.
  12. 12. Cyber crime experts have warned that hate tweets could also be prosecuted as a breach of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, relating to using "a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence or for the purposes of a threat“ - Byrnes, 2012. /photostream/
  13. 13. More things that may get you into trouble… Earlier this year, two British tourists were restricted from entering America following a joke on Twitter stating “I’m going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe” (Hartley-Parkinson, 2012). The Department of Homeland Security initially flagged one of the tourists as a potential threat following a Tweet stating “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?” (Hartley-Parkinson, 2012).
  14. 14. The tourists were detained at Los Angeles airport on suspicionof ‘planning to commit crimes’. The 26 year old boy whoinitially sent the Tweet argued that the word ‘destroy’ is aBritish word used for ‘party’.Nevertheless, the content and wording of his Tweet was enoughto place security officials on high alert. -Hartley-Parkinson (2012).
  15. 15. Another thing to keep in mind… When posting images and sharing information on Twitter, please take note of and respect the copyright attached to the content that you are sharing. 3179098895/
  16. 16. Twitters Copyright Policy “Respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects users of the service to do the same” - Twitter Terms of Service (2012). /3179098895/
  17. 17. What happens if you are in breach of the rules and regulations? If you are found to be in breach of the rules and regulations, Twitter has the right to remove and refuse to distribute content that you have posted, to suspend your user account, or reclaim your username -Twitter Terms of Service (2012).
  18. 18. Remember…YOU are responsible for your use of the services that Twitter provides, for any content you post and share, and for any consequences thereof. This includes other users and third party services using your content. - Twitter Terms of Service (2012).
  19. 19. If you do not agree to these terms of service, then do not click
  20. 20. What about TwittersPrivacy Policy?
  21. 21. Did you know…A Consumer Reports ‘State of the Net’ survey conducted in 2010revealed that up to 9 per cent of social network users had experiencedsome form of abuse online in that past year, such asscams, harassment, and identity theft (Sachoff, 2010).Social network users that post personal information such as their fullbirth dates, home addresses, photos and names of children, have beenfound to be most at risk of falling victim to cybercrime (Sachoff, 2010).
  22. 22. Although Twitter does ask you to provide some of your personal information during the registration process, such as your name, password, username and email address, you CAN control theamount of personal information that you share with the public by adjusting your
  23. 23. Remember that, unless you adjust your PRIVACY SETTINGS, everything you post on Twitter is PUBLIC. This includes: Metadata provided with Tweets… Tweets… And Retweets. -Twitter Privacy Policy (2012).
  24. 24. Twitter does not actively monitor every post that is published on it’s site, nor does it proactively remove Tweets on behalf of other users (Holt, 2012).If you feel that your privacy has beenviolated, you need to fill out acomplaint form in order for Twitter totake further action. The complaint formcan be found at 511539541/
  25. 25. What other types of information can Twitter access from you? Your location information, such as the location that you are in when you send a Tweet from your mobile phone. Twitter monitors your website usage by using tracking cookies (a small data file that is transferred to your computer), in order to gain a better understanding of how you use it’s services. Log data, such as your computers IP address, the search terms that you use, your mobile carrier, and the pages that you have visited, are all recorded by Twitter. Third-Party services may also retrieve aspects of information that are sent by your web browser, on the condition that these third parties use this data in line with Twitters Privacy Policy. In the case that Twitter faces issues such as bankruptcy and sale of assets, your personal information and account information may be sold as part of that transaction. - Twitter Privacy Policy (2012).
  26. 26. So…“We’re accustomed to thinking of the internet as being a neutral place, ablank sheet upon which we are free to do whatever we desire, whetherliberal or conservative, corporate or anarchist, commercial or free” (Barthel,2012).
  27. 27. Always remember…“Before posting something about yourself or your family on theinternet, ask yourself: have you or would you ever disclose this kind ofinformation to a stranger in real life?If the answer is NO then you’d better think twice before you send it out into a world where it can be put to countless illicit uses and, more importantly, from which you may never be able to completely erase it” (Datcu, 2012).
  28. 28. ReferencesBarthel, M. (July 5, 2012). What are the Politics of the Internet? The AWL. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from, H. (August 29, 2012). Australias Next Top Model judge Charlotte Dawson takes aim at Twitter trolls.News Limited Network. Retrieved 31st August 2012 from (May 21, 2008). Twitter Pack, [Image]. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from, S. (February 9, 2012). The Psychology of Personal Information Sharing. Bitfender Resource Center.Retrieved 4th September 2012 from, R. (January 31, 2012). Im going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe: British pairarrested in U.S. on terror charges over Twitter jokes. Mail Online. Retrieved 31st August 2012 from, K. (August 1, 2012). What to do when someone Tweets your phone number without permission. The DailyDot. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from
  29. 29. ReferencesLeaver, T. (November 18, 2009). Learning, Authenticity & Online Policy Primers. Tama’s Learning Blog, [Blog].Retrieved 28th August 2012 from (January 4, 2009). Photography on Twitter, [Image]. Retrieved 1st September 2012 from Ochoa. (April 16, 2010). Twitter on Paper , [Image]. Retrieved 3rd September 2012 from Ochoa. (May 13, 2009). Nonviolenceiamx_banner_120x600, [Image]. Retrieved 2nd September 2012 from Ochoa. (April 6, 2009). Twitter Profile, [Image]. Retrieved 2nd September 2012 from Ochoa. (May 13, 2009). Twitter_Good_Bad, [Image]. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from Ochoa. (March 5, 2009). Retweet, [Image]. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from Ochoa. (February 12, 2009). Twitter, [Image]. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from
  30. 30. ReferencesRosaura Ochoa. (July 28, 2010). Twitter En La Vida Real, [Image]. Retrieved 1st September 2012 from Ochoa. (March 3, 2009). Alto a la Violencia, [Image]. Retrieved 5th September 2012 from, M. (May 4, 2010). Social Network Users Posting Too Much Personal Information: Social Network UsersVulnerable to Cybercrime. WebProNews. Retrieved 4th September 2012 from Privacy Policy. (May 17, 2012). Retrieved 31st August 2012 from Terms of Service. (June 25, 2012). Retrieved 31st August from