I’m intrigued by the negative reaction that some have had to Twitter’s decision to release the personal information of a South Tyneside councillor who had attempted to tweet under a veil of digital anonymity.
Twitter’s behaviour is entirely consistent with its terms and conditions and user agreement – nowhere does it say that Twitter allows you to post anonymously, or that it will not comply with the law when directed to do so.
Whilst many Internet users hold the popular misconception that they can be ‘anonymous’ on the Internet, those in the know understand that this is very rarely the case; even when setting-up a free email account and using an Internet café, web users create a unique digital footprint that experienced digital forensic investigators can use to identify them.
People who believe that on-line services like Twitter give them the power and permission to write and publish inaccurate, inflammatory or libellous material are mistaken.
The perceived anonymity of the Internet doesn’t give people carte blanche to behave in a way that negatively affects others.
Personally, I think that people posting on Twitter should identify themselves – if they are going to judge and make comments about people who are happy to reveal their identities, why shouldn’t they?
The Internet privacy developments of the last few days mark an important milestone in the maturing of the Internet and I believe that Twitter was absolutely right to comply with the law of the land and reveal the personal information of an allegedly libellous anonymous tweeter.