Do celebrities have a right to privacy?

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Only a week after PostGhost - a website which monitored public figures' Twitter profiles for deleted tweets – was launched, it has been shut down by Twitter.

“We created the website postghost.com to provide the public with a more accurate history of public statements made by the most influential public figures on Twitter,” wrote PostGhost’s creators.

Twitter emailed the group warning them to shut down the website for the crime of displaying deleted Tweets. This crime is banned by Twitter’s terms of service.

PostGhost’s inventors explains the purpose of saving deleted tweets written by various celebrities: “When a public figure makes a public statement in the real world, be it in print, in person, or on their own website, writers, bloggers and individuals have the right to reprint and discuss that statement at will, even if the speaker wishes he or she could take it back. As Twitter becomes the default worldwide platform for online speech, losing that right is a loss for public discourse as a whole.”

PostGhost’s admins claimed that not all users should have their deleted tweets stored; its verified user criteria covers just 0.05 percent of all Twitter account holders. “We believe that for such prominent verified Twitter users, the public has a right to see their public Twitter history, whether or not they grow to regret the statements they’ve made,” it said.

“Verified Twitter users are not members of the general public – they are influential public figures with the ability to start trends and change opinions. And verification is opt-in: an account needs to agree to be verified, which indicates that both Twitter and the verified user agree that their account is especially influential. The average verified Twitter user has over 123,000 followers; the biggest group represented by verified users is journalists and the media. We believe that accountability for the fourth branch of government – the media – is just as important as accountability for the other three,” writes creators of PostGhost.

It highlights a previous statement by CEO Jack Dorsey, who said that "we have a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue." Therefore Twitter, by removing that possibility, is weakening public debate.

PostGhost’s creators state that their service provides “a fairer and more transparent way of allowing individuals to hold public figures accountable than Politwoops, a website that Twitter has recently reauthorized to publish certain deleted tweets.” Politwoops records deleted tweets by politicians across the world. For a while it was taken down but after some negotiations, it was allowed back on Twitter.

The website creators are not giving up though. It asks those who support them to share the open letter and leave their email address to “be updated on the status of PostGhost.”

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