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Tokyo court rules Twitter doesn’t need to delete information on citizens’ criminal history

A man wanted his arrest history scrubbed from Twitter.
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Twitter’s lately been the social media/politics talk of the town, and praise/rage in the US – because of some of the recent decisions it has made – but how is this social network holding up internationally?

When we talk about Big Tech, we mean trillion-dollar companies like Google (YouTube), Facebook, Apple, Amazon – but when we talk about influence on the web, we can’t leave out Twitter. Even though it is by all accounts at this point a struggling entity, business and user numbers-wise – it still plays an asymmetrically huge role on the internet.

Take a look at this ruling from a Japanese court, that justified its ruling against a regular citizen by saying that Twitter had the right to perpetuate information about them because basically, “Twitter plays a significant role on the internet.”

The perception is clearly – and Japanese courts are not the only ones to share it – of Twitter’s influence being something on a par with Google and its devastatingly dominant Search and YouTube business.

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Nevermind that Twitter’s actual power is in being an echo chamber for journalists and “political influencers” who make it appear much more important than the platform really is “in the real world.”

The Japan case here seems to have stemmed from something that was either loosely based on, or unfortunately related to Europe’s “right to be forgotten” moment – as we learn from the Japan Times report.

The ruling is significant in that it overturned an earlier verdict by a lower court, that granted the man’s request for Twitter to delete the controversial posts affecting his livelihood by making him unemployable.

(And it’s not like he’d been accused of hijacking a truck on a highway – the man was arrested in 2012 for trespassing, and paid his fine. But Twitter appealed against the court’s decision that he essentially should now enjoy that “right to be forgotten.”)

And now -the court ruling suggests that this episode should never, ever be put behind him. At least not on Twitter.

Somewhat confusingly – the same judge seems to have suggested that since Google Search no longer surfaces the man’s arrest history – it was fine for Twitter to continue to do it.

“It is not clear whether the right to privacy prevails over (the significance of) keeping Twitter posts,” Judge Noyama concluded.

Well good on you there, judge – for “concluding” pretty much nothing.

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Defend free speech and individual liberty online. 

Push back against big tech and media gatekeepers.