Messages posted on Twitter should be considered public and can be published by newspapers, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has ruled.
The ruling follows a complaint by Department of Transport official Sarah Baskerville against articles published in the Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday which quoted her tweets.
Apparently unaware that her message could be seen by anyone and everyone, Baskerville had complained that the tweets were private and meant only for the eyes of her 700 or so followers at the time.
The papers argued that the messages were in the public domain and that it was reasonable to quote them "in light of the requirements of the civil service code on impartiality".
In its first ever ruling concerning the re-publication of messages posted to Twitter, the PCC decided in favour of the papers, concluding that there had been no invasion of privacy.
PCC director Stephen Abell said: “This is an important ruling by the commission. As more and more people make use of such social media to publish material related to their lives, the commission is increasingly being asked to make judgments about what can legitimately be described as private information.”
“In this case, the commission decided that republication of material by national newspapers, even though it was originally intended for a smaller audience, did not constitute a privacy intrusion.”