Earlier today I noticed a tweet from British Airways, in response a query from someone who had apparently tweeted their booking reference number. BA said
Hi…for data protection we must ask you remove the booking ref from your feed. We’ll look into this and get back to you.
I thought it was mildly amusing and irritating that “data protection” was being cited as the reason for the request to delete the tweet. “Data protection” sometimes seems like a catch-all term companies trot out when they’re asked for any sort of information which they’re reluctant to disclose. This time it seemed like BA were extending this to a paternalistic oversight of people’s twitter feeds.
In this instance, though, BA responded politely to my tweet, explaining why they discourage customers from posting booking numbers on social media, and others politely rallied to their cause.
So I’m just posting to say to BA – I’m sorry. I think you’re right to discourage the public posting of private information, and I understand why you sent that tweet. It was puerile of me to pick it up and tweet about it.
But, even though the issue is related to the processing of personal data, I do still think it was a bit silly to use “data protection” to justify your sensible suggestion to a customer to delete one of their tweets.