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August 08, 2012

Twitter Battles NYPD over Mike Tyson Death Threats

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer

The NYPD has commanded Twitter (News - Alert) to release information about a certain account. Twitter refused. The NYPD expressed that the information is about a death threat that alludes to the Aurora massacre. Twitter still refused. The NYPD has now issued a subpoena for Twitter to turn over the data – but that doesn’t mean the standoff is over. Twitter has disputed subpoenas in the past.

The tweet that set off alarms said, “This s--- ain’t no joke yo I’m serious people are gonna die just like in aurora.” Understandably, the reference to the Colorado movie theater massacre prompted the NYPD to investigate. Their investigation led them to believe that the audience at downtown’s Longacre Theater showing of “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” was the intended target.

But Twitter is adamant that their privacy policy is no joke either, so the NYPD served Twitter a subpoena after the company refused to turn over the relative data.

After Macolm Harris, one of the 700 Occupy protestors, was arrested last October for straying off the pedestrian walkway onto the Brooklyn Bridge against police orders, Twitter was subpoenaed to hand over tweets that proved Harrison incited group jaywalking.

But Twitter’s legal team argued that federal court needed more than just a subpoena in order for the company to compromise its privacy policy. The judge in this case stated, “If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy." And although Twitter disagreed with that sentiment, they eventually succumbed after failing to make their point in court.

The point that Twitter is trying to make now is a testament to its sincerity over its privacy policy. Nobody cares if Twitter protects the privacy of a jaywalker – but a potential killer?

Sources reveal that Twitter sent this message to the NYPD, “We appreciate the timeliness and sensitivity of this matter, and have reviewed the reported Twitter account. While we do invoke emergency disclosure procedures when it appears that a threat is present, specific and immediate, this does not appear to fall under those strict parameter as per our policies."

Twitter’s guidelines of what constitutes an immediate threat are indeed strict. A tweet from the same account stated, “I'm in Florida rite now, but it'll happen i promise I'm just finishing up my hit list.” Either Twitter has evidence that this person is taking a long vacation, or it is really making its point clear.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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