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Finance journalist Teri Buhl started a meme by threatening to sue anyone who reprinted her public tweets.
You can’t guarantee what will become an Internet meme and what won’t, but if you want to become Internet-infamous, combining cluelessness with hypocrisy with the Streisand Effect will greatly increase your chances. Just ask Twitterer and alleged journalist and privacy advocate Teri Buhl—no, wait. On second thought, don’t ask her; she might try to sue you.
Buhl is a self-described investigative journalist based in New Canaan, Connecticut. Her journalistic coups include a 2010 arrest for allegedly stealing the diary of her then-boyfriend’s teenaged daughter and posting excerpts of it on Facebook under a false name. (Buhl’s case hasn’t gone to trial yet; it was recently delayed due to the judge’s health problems.)
Before Buhl’s alleged Facebook harassment of a teenager, she wrote for the Greenwich Time newspaper, which fired her in early 2010.
But a bizarre privacy disclaimer on Buhl’s Twitter account is what recently brought her to the attention of Mark Bennett, a professional attorney who is thus unlikely to feel threatened by baseless lawsuit threats. Bennett also maintains a blog “about the art and science of criminal defense trial lawyering, as well as anything else that I am interested in.”
And he became interested in Buhl’s Twitter account (now locked) after reading her bio on the site: “Investigative journalist covering Finance/Wall Street. No tweets are publishable.”
Bennett’s friend Gideon found this confusing— aren’t tweets, by definition, already published?—and asked Buhl for clarification. As Bennett related in a series of screenshots posted on his blog, Buhl believes that she can sue anyone who quotes one of her tweets.
That’s not how copyright or expectation-of-privacy laws work, for journalists or anyone else—a comment posted on a public Twitter feed may indeed be quoted without the original writer’s permission, unlike (for example) a comment written in a teenage girl’s diary stored in a drawer in her bedroom. So far, Teri Buhl’s misguided attempt to protect her privacy is only bringing her greater levels of Internet infamy, including a brand-new Tumblr called dis iz teribuhl (barely more than a few hours old as of press time), whose “unpostable“ posts are covered by the copyright disclaimer “All posts are OTR and unpublishable, subject to lolsuit.”
Photo via Teri Buhl/Twitter
Jennifer Abel was an early contributor to the Daily Dot's web culture coverage. Her work has appeared in Mashable, Salon, Playboy, the Guardian, and elsewhere.