As social networks supplant the telephone and even email as a mode of gathering opinions and reaction, the Press Complaints Commission has made its first ruling on the use of quotes from Twitter in newspapers.
The media watchdog has ruled against a civil servant who complained that the Independent on Sunday and Daily Mail had printed tweets that she considered to be “private”.
Sarah Baskerville, who works at the Department for Transport, argued that it was a “reasonable expectation” that only her 700 followers would read her tweets, which discussed aspects of her job and made a number of comments of a political nature.
She said her Twitter feed carries a disclaimer that the views expressed there were personal, and were not representative of her employer.
The newspapers countered the claim by arguing that the the account was in the public domain. They said quoting the tweets was editorially justified “in light of the requirements of the civil service code on impartiality”.
The PCC agreed, ruling that her account was open to public view and related directly to her professional life as a public servant, especially as “any message could easily be retweeted to a wider audience”.