FOI request detail

TPH Twitter direct messages

Request ID: FOI-0962-1718
Date published: 04 August 2017

You asked

Please could you forward me all Direct Messages sent from @TFLTPH Twitter account from the past 6 months to the present day.

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-0962-1718


Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 21 July 2017 asking for information about our TPH Twitter account.


Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.


However, we are refusing your request under section 14(1) of the Act. After reviewing a sample of our records we consider that providing the requested information would place an unreasonable burden on us. Our principal duty is to provide an effective transport service for London and we consider that answering this request would represent a disproportionate effort. It would be a significant distraction from our work managing the TfL network, requiring re-allocation of already limited resources and placing an unacceptable burden on a small number of personnel. We do wish to clarify that whilst we consider that your request falls under section 14(1) of the FOI Act, this does not reflect a conclusion that it has been your intention to deliberately place an undue burden on our resources.


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance states that one of the indicators of a request which may fall under section 14(1) is that it “appears to be part of a completely random approach, lacks any clear focus, or seems to have been solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”


The ICO guidance provides the following examples of a ‘fishing expedition’ request which may fall under section 14(1) if it:


- Imposes a burden by obliging the authority to sift through a substantial volume of information to isolate and extract the relevant details;


- Encompasses information which is only of limited value because of the wide scope of the request;


- Creates a burden by requiring the authority to spend a considerable amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions.


Our view is that all three of these examples apply in this instance. We have found that there are in excess of 2,500 individual messages that meet the requirements of your request. In order to process this, we would need to manually review each of these messages one by one. Given that direct messages are considered to be private, as opposed to the public facing nature of the Twitter account generally, it is likely that it would be necessary to spend at least some time, and possibly a significant amount of time, considering exemptions which might be applicable to the information caught by the request, particularly in relation to personal data. This is likely to include redacting exempt information from messages in which there is very limited public interest but which are caught by your request because they are simply messages sent from our Twitter account.


By its nature, we feel this wide ranging and non-specific request will very likely encompass information which is only of limited value. In that respect, it is noteworthy that your request is not for information on any specific subject or issue.


We consider the burden of retrieving, reviewing and redacting the information would be disproportionate to the benefit of providing it. Therefore, due to the wide and unfocused scope of your request, we are refusing it under s.14 of the FOI Act. If you would like to re-submit a more focused, specific request then we will, of course, consider it. For example, a request for information on a particular, specific, subject or issue contained in correspondence exchanged between named individuals over a limited period of time is less likely to raise concerns about the disproportionate effort required to answer it.


Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.


Yours sincerely


Lee Hill

Senior FOI Case Officer


FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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