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Social Media PM's

The law relating to media, internet, telecomms etc

Social Media PM's

Postby smuge » Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:30 pm

Is there such a thing as a Private Message? And could either party of the conversation publish if choose to do so without fear of the law?

Probably a broad spectrum of law but in general terms? :)
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:59 pm

It depends. It would probably be unwise to treat anything posted on social media as being truly private, whatever the law may say.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Slartibartfast » Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:03 pm

smuge wrote:Is there such a thing as a Private Message?


Certainly not on social media, where the admins might read or disclose any message (for their amusement, or at the request of an enforcement authority). You can never know if the other party will respect the confidence of what you say, they might be forwarding to others or screenshotting you directly onto Reddit. Their login might be compromised, at the time or later, so that third parties can see their message folders.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby miner » Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:39 pm

No.
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby atticus » Sat Apr 04, 2015 6:13 pm

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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:21 pm

atticus wrote:It seems to be necessary for me to say this again:

Do not post anything online that you would not wish to be read by: your parents/spouse/children/boss/judge or the Daily Mail.

There is, or should be, a difference between posting online and sending a "private message" online.

It would, for example, be a disgraceful breach of ettiquette if I posted on Twitter something you had sent me in a PM here, but would it be unlawful? Should it be?

Taking the question a step further, on most, if not all social media sites, the admin can access the user's PM's. What if an admin posted publicly a PM sent from one user to another? Would that be unlawful?
Is there perhaps an implied contract that that kind of thing won't happen?
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Slartibartfast » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:42 pm

Hairyloon wrote:Taking the question a step further, on most, if not all social media sites, the admin can access the user's PM's. What if an admin posted publicly a PM sent from one user to another? Would that be unlawful?
Is there perhaps an implied contract that that kind of thing won't happen?


I doubt it. Firstly, the social media site's T&Cs will probably include blanket exclusions which allow the operator to "do whatever we want with whatever you post here". It is not unusual for the T&C's to claim IP rights over anything posted to their system. (If an admin acted against the site owner's rules for personal spite or gain, then they might be personally liable at a criminal level via Computer Misuse Act)

Secondly, is there an enforceable contract anyway? A long time since I studied law, but most social media sites are free to use - eg without payment of consideration, what contract has been formed?
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:51 pm

Slartibartfast wrote:A long time since I studied law, but most social media sites are free to use - eg without payment of consideration, what contract has been formed?

A good point, but consideration does not have to be in money. Is there not an argument that the work that posters do to attract new punters to the site by posting content is a consideration in exchange for being allowed to post?
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby atticus » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:58 pm

That misses the point. Is there a contract between me and hairy about the content of all those many hundreds of pms we exchange here, on twitter and Facebook? If so, how does that come about?
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Re: Social Media PM's

Postby dls » Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:54 pm

Just to be clear here, I have never even thought to reading anyone's pms, but everyone should know that I could (I think) if I wished to.

Absolutely no promise of privacy is given to anyone or any content on this board. If anyone really does wish to communicate (relatively) privately, they should always use direct email. If one is not available, ask for it. If it is not given, you should work out why.

I suppose also that if they wished the hosting company could read any content on here - however labelled. I know nothing to suggest that they might intend or want to, but equally nothing to suggest that they could not.

As to elsewhere, it is silly to expect privacy anywhere on the net, unless specific promises are made. You find a promise made to you for which you paid, and you might expect it to be fulfilled, but seek to have one implied, and you are on a sticky wicket in law, and in practice you are playing cricket with chopsticks.
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