Top court orders Twitter to delete posts on past arrest

The Twitter app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken on July 13.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Supreme Court overturned a high court ruling Friday, ordering Twitter Inc. to delete 14 posts referring to a man’s arrest in the past.

In the lawsuit, the man demanded the removal of the Twitter posts, claiming that they infringed his personal rights. He was arrested for trespassing in 2012, and paid a fine later.

Following the arrest, his name was reported by the media. Twitter posts featuring news articles on his arrest have been left accessible via Twitter’s search function.

At the top court’s Second Petty Bench on Friday, Presiding Justice Koichi Kusano said that the Twitter posts were apparently intended as news flashes and not supposed to be seen by Twitter users for a long time.

The top court noted that the arrest happened a long ago, and that news articles featured in the Twitter posts have already been deleted. It also said that posts on the man’s arrest did not especially attract public attention, and that he was not in a public position.

The court concluded that it is reasonable to judge that the benefits of shutting out such posts outweigh reasons for allowing them to continue to be viewed.

The Tokyo High Court had rejected the man’s claim, citing the 2017 Supreme Court decision, on a lawsuit that involved search giant Google, that the deletion of news articles is allowed only if the benefit of not publishing them is clearly greater than the articles’ purpose and significance.

However, the highest court said that the criteria in the 2017 ruling cannot apply to the Twitter case, considering the social media platform’s services and how they are used.