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Who owns your Twitter account when it comes to your employment?

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 6th, 2017

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A popular Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer is currently the talk of twitter, after his account was suspended following his employers claims there were concerns about his posts.

Kyle Ashley is described as a passionate and outspoken bike cop, who isn’t too shy to call out violators parked in bike lanes on Twitter. However, since Friday, his account @TPS_ParkingPal is no longer active on the social media site, and many, including city councillors took notice.

“As one Councillor voice, I so appreciated Kyle’s tweets. He is exactly what enforcement needs,” Councillor Joe Mihevc tweeted.

Cycle Toronto, a bike advocacy group, tweeted Toronto Police and John Tory asking why the account was removed.

Ashley tells CityNews he’s the one who decided to suspend his account, after he says Toronto Police showed up at his door demanding his twitter credentials.

“I chose to deactivate it at that point,” he said. “I received no advisement on what the tweets were of concern. Other than brief allusion to interactions with people in Montreal.”

He adds as of now, he is expected at work on Monday.

The Toronto Police Service did not tell CityNews which posts were deemed ‘concerning’.

“While he has done some excellent work highlighting bike lanes, there have been some ongoing concerns about some of the postings on his account. Those concerns have escalated,” said Mark Pugash, Director of Corporate Communications with TPS. “We felt the most appropriate thing to do was to suspend, temporarily, his Twitter account while we look into those concerns.”

CityNews reached out to Twitter Canada and a spokesperson said social media policies are defined by individual employees. Though the site advises users to post content they are comfortable sharing with others, as it is their sole responsibility.

“Any use or reliance on any Content or materials posted via the Services or obtained by you through the Services is at your own risk,” reads Twitter’s Terms of Service. “We do not endorse, support, represent or guarantee the completeness, truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of any Content or communications posted via the Services or endorse any opinions expressed via the Services.”

However, there are instances where the site may disclose personal information, if it believes “it is reasonably necessary to comply with a law, regulation, legal process, or governmental request.” The site states non-personal information that can be disclosed include things like the number of tweet engagements, how many users click on particular links or voted on polls, or trending topics.

“Obtaining non-public information, such as an email address used to sign-up for an account or IP login information, requires valid legal process like subpoena, court order, or other local legal process, depending on the country that issues the request,” Twitter Canada says.

There are also non-public requests, like direct messages, that may delve deeper and require a search warrants. Twitter Canada says it doesn’t always provide information when it receives legal requests.

“Twitter may seek to narrow requests that are overly broad, request additional context if the nature of the investigation is not clear, or push back on the request for other reasons,” said Twitter Canada.

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