Should Tweets on Sex Crimes Be Used in News Stories?


Most news organizations don’t use names of sex-crime victims, but what if they send tweets about the crime on Twitter? The Poynter Institute, a Florida-based news media think tank, raises that question. Policies on not naming victims unless they grant permission don’t address questions that arise when victims share the news on their social networks.

In one such case in Tampa, local media outlets quoted the young woman's tweets, but didn't link to them or include the girl's name or photo, which appear on her Twitter page. “There was a point we considered naming her or using her Twitter name because her information was already out there, but there was some discussion considering the Times' policy and the oddity of this story — a victim who tweeted about her rape to about 700 followers,” said St. Petersburg Times writer Ileana Morales. “In the end, she hadn't agreed with us to put her name in the paper or on our website. So we didn't.” Police asked the woman to stop tweeting about the crime out of concern that the tweets could interfere with the investigation.

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