NYPD Battles Twitter, Wins With Court Order

Chris CrumSocial Media

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A Twitter user posted tweets this week, indicating intentions to initiate an Aurora-like murder rampage, and the police took these tweets seriously enough to investigate.

The user is quoted as tweeting things like, "i'm serious, people are gonna die like aurora," and "gosh i'm still making this it list damn i wanna kill a lot of people."

According to reports, the police believe the user's tweets were in connection with a Mike Tyson show on Broadway.

Considering that people's lives could be in jeopardy, the lives already lost in the Aurora massacre, and the related incidents that continue to pop up around the country, it's not hard to believe that the police would take the threats seriously.

A man with a gun was arrested at a theater showing The Dark Knight rises in Connecticut on Tuesday night. Another man in Ohio, who took guns, ammo and knives to a showing, was arrested on Saturday, though he claims the weapons were for protection, in case someone else tried to imitate the Aurora tragedy.

Twitter, apparently respecting free speech and user privacy, was not ready to give up the user's personal information without some resistance. When the NYPD asked Twitter for the user's info, the company declined to provide it. Then, the NYPD got a court order, and changed Twitter's mind.

Twitter does say in its privacy policy:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Policy, we may preserve or disclose your information if we believe that it is reasonably necessary to comply with a law, regulation or legal request; to protect the safety of any person; to address fraud, security or technical issues; or to protect Twitter's rights or property. However, nothing in this Privacy Policy is intended to limit any legal defenses or objections that you may have to a third party’s, including a government’s, request to disclose your information.

Just for comparison, here's what Facebook says in its privacy policy:

We may access, preserve and share your information in response to a legal request (like a search warrant, court order or subpoena) if we have a good faith belief that the law requires us to do so. This may include responding to legal requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law in that jurisdiction, affects users in that jurisdiction, and is consistent with internationally recognized standards. We may also access, preserve and share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to: detect, prevent and address fraud and other illegal activity; to protect ourselves, you and others, including as part of investigations; and to prevent death or imminent bodily harm. Information we receive about you, including financial transaction data related to purchases made with Facebook Credits, may be accessed, processed and retained for an extended period of time when it is the subject of a legal request or obligation, governmental investigation, or investigations concerning possible violations of our terms or policies, or otherwise to prevent harm.

Beyond pointing to its privacy policy, Twitter hasn't commented on the matter.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.