Twitter Troublemakers

Here’s an interesting post about a truly despicable breed of scumbag – people who use Twitter to take advantage of tragic events.  In the wake of The Boston Marathon bombing, for example, someone set up a fake Twitter account claiming to raise money for victims.  From a legal perspective, this raises the question, what should or can Twitter do about these kind of scams?  It’s a tricky area, because an entity in Twitter’s shoes walks a fine line.  It may want to do the right thing, but it doesn’t want to assume enforceable duties and find itself in trouble for failing to live up to those self- inflicted obligations.  In the case of the Boston Marathon scam, Twitter reacted to comments from suspicious users and suspended the account.  This action was covered by Twitter’s terms of use.  By those terms, Twitter “reserve[s] the right at all times (but will not have an obligation) to remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, to suspend or terminate users, and to reclaim usernames without liability to you.”  Note the balancing act, Twitter can do what it wants with user generated content, but has no obligation.  From Twitter’s perspective, that makes a lot of sense.  Let’s hope it continues to sniff out and disable despicable scam artists whenever it needs to.