US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

Summary: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said this weekend that he and his colleagues do not have Facebook. He then referred to Twitter as tweet.

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US Chief Justice John Roberts was in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia on Saturday at the Fourth Circuit Judicial conference to discuss the inner workings of the US Supreme Court. As you can see in the video above, the Chief Justice was asked to comment on the court's use of social media and the risks it entailed.

Roberts said he doesn't have Facebook and he believes his nine colleagues also do not have an account. He also said they don't have a tweet, killing two birds with one stone: he managed to say that he does not have a Twitter account nor does he know what it is.

"Now I also appreciate that it's a generational thing, and the idea of not being connected in a particular way can be problematic for them," Roberts said. "Different members of the court are more adept at that than others. I don't think any of us have a Facebook page or tweet, whatever that is."

Chuckles quickly followed after his specific comments on Facebook and Twitter. Roberts also said he tells all incoming staff members not to post status updates, even when inadvertently referring to their work, stressing that they can unintentionally reveal confidences.

"I sit down with incoming clerks at the beginning of the year," Roberts said. "As soon as we get back, we go through a number of things they have to be aware of, and that’s one of them… it's new. I tell them that they obviously shouldn’t be tweeting about what they’re doing, or whether they have websites or whatever."

It's not really surprising that the court falls behind the general populace when it comes to technology. Social media is used as a tool by both businesses and governments, but when it comes to the Supreme Court, Facebook and Twitter don't have much of a role to play (yet?).

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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15 comments
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  • Or Maybe Not

    While he acknowledged he is not knowledgable about it, he might just have talked about the action of tweeting, a verb, which would make his statement perfectly fine. It's not like he said "a tweet" or "a tweet account." "I don't think any of us tweet." Notice that he paused before he said, "or tweet." He uses it as a verb earlier in the video (as you quote shortly afterwards in your article). And yes, I do think there would be some serious issues with the supreme court judges having "friends" and "followers."
    WebSiteManager
    • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

      @WebSiteManager I wonder if Grover Norquist and health insurance lobbyists would follow Clarence Thomas... They seem to have friended his wife.
      snoop0x7b
  • Facebook, Twitter Simply Is Not Appropriate in Some Places

    Regardless of whether a justice, judge, attorney or anyone else in the legal profession has and uses Facebook or Twitter, some things just are not meant to be posted - legally or ethically. Unfortunately, we have too many good (bad?) example of this already.

    My daughter clerked for two federal judges while in law school. She has both Facebook and Twitter accounts, and uses them, but she knows she could not discuss any cases with her friends.

    Just because you can do something does not mean you should do it.
    brucegil@...
    • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

      @brucegil@... AMEN!!! Thank you for stating what those of us with common sense already knew, but those with little common sense can't seem to grasp. There are things that do not need to be shouted to the world via cyberspace, and those that should not be. Information regarding Supreme Court cases would fall under both categories until after the judgements are announced.
      davesuff
  • Thank god they don't

    I am glad to see they have the common sense to not have facebook or twitter.Too bad or president isnt that smart and decided to put our terror alert method as a fcaebook and twitter message. the non saftey issue makes these social devices dangerous not to mention the low iq people who are using them.
    Fletchguy
  • all their "friends" would be

    Incorporated
    one040@...
    • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

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      stefrayb
  • Smart decisions

    As I listen to the video, it seems to me that Chief Justice Roberts is quite familiar with Facebook and Twitter -- probably more so than most users are familiar with the US Constitution.

    Furthermore, it is absolutely clear that Roberts is acutely aware of the dangers of careless postings to social networks. If a supposedly smart and plugged-in guy like Anthony Weiner can make a wrong click and ruin his career, then an overworked clerk could easily disclose confidential information.

    If and when the Court concludes that services like Facebook and Twitter will assist the work of the Court, accounts will be opened. Until then, the Court has no need to prove it is fashionable or hip.
    Dogcatcher
  • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

    An otherwise interesting story was ruined by its poorly thought out and needlessly judgmental conclusion.

    It is a HUGE leap to presume that just because a specific group of very smart people chooses to do other things with their time than farmville and inane tweets, that it is because they fall "behind the general populace when it comes to technology."

    That's like saying Bill Gates lags behind Paris Hilton when it comes to technology because Paris tweets more frequently.
    Tom007
    • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

      @Tom007

      What a terrible analogy. Roberts implies in the video that he's not very good with technology.
      Empro
      • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

        @Empro Huh? That has absolutely nothing to do with my point. Time spent on Facebook and Twitter have little if anything to do with adeptness with technology.

        The Pope just tweeted for the first time, and he did it from an iPad. Does that mean he is more tech savvy than Roberts?

        Seriously, there just isn't a correlation between social media use and adeptness in tech.

        If you want to make the point that someone is inept with tech, pick something relevant to make that point.
        Tom007
        • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

          @Empro

          Roberts may very well lag in tech use, but if he started tweeting or playing Farmville, that wouldn't mean that Roberts is suddenly now on the bleeding edge of technology, would it?

          And speaking of implying, the article implies the justices are somehow defective and don't quite get the modern world because these perfectly capable people have chosen to spend their time in other ways. The inference is a real leap.
          Tom007
  • Finally a reasonable court decision

    Many people do not use facebook or twitter. I've been using the Internet since it was ran on 300/1200 baud modems, I write Internet software, I make my living online and I still do not see any need to give my private information to some useless social website. Only an idiot would ever give real information to such a site. It's asking for privacy and security problems. People are way to quick to just answer any questions. It's like everyone is a well trained dog that will do tricks on command. Everyone was outraged when facebook handed over private information to the government, but why? Anyone with two brain cells could see that coming from day one. The education system in this country sucks. We are a nation of idiots and sheep.
    mouse2600
    • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

      @mouse2600
      I strongly agree with your opinion about our education, and just think how other countries see us and what they think of us.
      Anna Galizia
  • RE: US Supreme Court: we're not on Facebook, what's Twitter?

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