Some Thoughts on Ethics and DocNow
Bergis Jules
261

Interesting post. Even in the analog age, archives manage all kinds of materials they don’t own the copyrights to/things we don’t have explicit permission to serve up. In the past we have provided access with caution to the user that we don’t own it and it’s on the user to use the material in a responsible way. I think we’ve felt especially confident in situations like this where the material has already been publicly disseminated, as I gather the tweets in question are.

If we’re especially anxious about misuse of social media content, perhaps one step we could take short of a deed of gift for every tweet (which I agree is not practical and probably overkill) is to notify the Twitter user that we have collected their tweets, why, what likely uses will be, and give them the opportunity to respond/request that their tweets be restricted or removed. I have done something similar to this for other types of electronic records when we figured the creator would probably be surprised to learn that the content they created for one purpose would wind up being in the Archives for an altogether different one.

I’m curious if anyone on Slack or elsewhere has brought up the obvious counterargument to this ethic of informed consent, which is that these tweets are public so users shouldn’t have an expectation of privacy?

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