Twitter Surveillance Guidelines for Law Enforcement

Guidelines for Law Enforcement
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a free website designed to provide the exchange of public content in the form
of 140 characters messages sent from the web interface or from a user’s phone. All
users of Twitter agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy policy at the time of sign up,
which allows us to govern the site.
Users may have a public or private account, and choose to view the 140 character
messages of other Twitter users, which range from businesses (such as Comcast,
Whole Foods, or Zappos) to political figures (such as BarackObama) to celebrities or
popular accounts (such as Oprah or Britney Spears) to normal people.
What user information does Twitter have?
Most Twitter profile information is public, so everyone can see it. A Twitter profile
contains a profile image, background, and the status updates, or “tweets” of the
account owner. In addition, the user has the option to fill out location, include a URL,
and write a “one line bio” or short phrase about themselves. The tweets on a profile
page update in real time, so the newest information is always available at the top.
Public profiles also show a list of whose tweets the account owner “follows” or
subscribes to, as well as the account owner’s “followers” or, those who subscribe to
the tweets of the account owner.
Private information requires a subpoena or court order
In accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, non-public information
about Twitter users is not released unless we have received a subpoena, court order,
or other legal process document. Some information we store is automatically
collected, while other information is provided at the user’s discretion. Though we do
store this information, it may not be accurate if the user has created a fake or
anonymous profile. Twitter doesn’t require email verification or identity authentication.
Data retention information
Twitter retains different information for different time periods. Twitter may retain user
information longer than usual in the case of preservation requests. Data preservation
requests must be accompanied by a subpoena or court order. Preservation requests
must be signed and sent on law enforcement letterhead. Requests may be sent via
the methods described below, and unless otherwise required, the user will still have
access to their account.
How to request user information with a subpoena or court order
Twitter accepts subpoenas delivered by mail or fax. In order to expedite the process,
subpoenas should include the URL of the Twitter profile in question, and details about
what specific information is required. Twitter conducts most correspondence via email,
so please include an email contact so we may contact you. To contact us, email:
Only email from law enforcement domains is accepted. Non-law enforcement requests should be sent through our regular support methods. Non-law
enfocement mail will be deleted.
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