Case Study7: Couple’s Emotional Breakup Made Public Through Twitter

19 Mar

I do not think that Andy Boyle’s tweeting of a random couple’s public breakup is newsworthy, nor do I consider it to be any type of journalism.  While it may be somewhat entertaining, it does not have any of the elements required to justifiably label it as real news.  To me, it is more of an example of how our society is shifting.  People’s idea of privacy, along with their ethical beliefs, have changed.  Ten years ago, this couple’s conversation would not have been overheard by anyone other than the people in Burger King that day.  Even if the technology was available to publicize the breakup via Twitter, I’m not sure if anyone would find it morally acceptable to do so.  The respect for privacy has changed.  Instead of Boyle viewing this conversation as personal to the two involved, he decided that since they were in a public place, he had every right to publish their words.  Of course he was legally allowed to do so, but some may argue a breach of ethics.

What I have a problem with is the fact that Boyle posted the couple’s picture along with the tweets.  Although not illegal, I don’t feel that he had any right to identify the couple, since their conversation was so personal and could be considered embarrassing.  This is where ethics come in.  I would have respected their right to privacy and not published anything that could identify either one of them.  Even though they gave up their right to privacy by arguing in a very public place, I still don’t find it acceptable to identify them.  I don’t know for sure, but I would have to guess that this couple would not have consented to having their entire conversation along with their picture published.  Therefore, the lack of consent, in addition to the lack of newsworthiness, eliminates these tweets from falling under any category of real journalism.

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