Using right to be forgotten for Twitter data
Tweets are short, which means when you tweet information about an individual, which is considered data (this includes names and any other identifying details), it is likely that the data will be inaccurate, or incomplete or both. These are usually sufficient grounds to allow you to make a successful right to be forgotten Twitter submission.
Generally speaking, a tweet that is also about a business, can be removed under a right to be forgotten provided the tweet includes personal identifying information.
In a recent case, our client N.P., who was the MD of a software development company, became the subject of undesirable tweets. The company was using Twitter’s platform to network and to acquire new leads including paying for sponsors’ links. In reply to one of the sponsored tweets paid for by N.P.’s company, an unidentified Twitter user commenced a highly defamatory campaign against the company and against N.P. personally.
N.P. was being identified by his name in tweets that implied that he was a convicted criminal. N.P. became concerned about the detrimental impact that the defamatory tweets would have on him personally and on the reputation of his company. He was also concerned about his 2 young children who might see the false tweets that contained the false allegations about him.
N.P. and his company had communicated with Twitter for nearly 8 weeks with an attempt to have the false tweets and the account that posted them deleted. They were unsuccessful as Twitter insisted the tweets were within its guidance.
Our strategy was two fold. I advised that there were two options to try and have the tweet removed from Twitter. We made a right to be forgotten Twitter submission pursuant to the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 (“GDPR”). The GDPR Notice to Twitter stipulated that Twitter must cease and desist processing N.P.'s personal data.
Twitter then had up to one month to respond. We also served a formal letter before claim on Twitter for defamation. Following some correspondence with Twitter, it agreed to delete the Tweet and the Twitter account that was posted them. It took nearly 2 weeks from the point of instructions of us by N.P. to the deletion of the defamatory tweets.
Unfortunately, Twitter is often unhelpful when it comes to having defamatory posts removed from its platform.
Luckily for us, here in the UK, we have good data protection laws which we can use to force Twitter to delete posts which are defamatory or that contain false or inaccurate information about individuals. Serving a right to be forgotten GDPR Notice on Twitter is almost always an effective way to have posts deleted. Often Twitter needs to be pushed hard before it agrees to remove tweets under a right to be forgotten. Remember, you can make a right to be forgotten application to social media companies if you believe that the company is breaching your data.