The NYPD is battling Twitter over the social media company’s refusal to release the name of a user who threatened an attack “just like in Aurora.”
The user claimed he would attack a Broadway theater where Mike Tyson’s one-man show was playing on August 1, describing his plan in detail.
“This s**t ain’t no joke yo I’m serious people are gonna die just like in aurora,” the user tweeted, claiming he/she would use unlocked exit doors.
The NYPD plans to subpoena Twitter today for the user’s identity.
The NYPD Intelligence Division used Twitter’s system for emergencies to request the identity of the account holder, but was rebuffed, officials say.
“Twitter turned us down, so we dispatched police to cover the theater while we sought a subpoena to force Twitter to disclose the identity of the account holder,” said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne in an emailed statement.
“We take the threat seriously, especially in light of the recent attacks in Wisconsin and Colorado,” he said of the threat against the Longacre Theatre.
Alleged shooter Wade Michael Page killed six people Sunday at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. Page, an Army veteran, was shot dead by police.
A spokeswoman for Twitter wrote, “We don’t have a comment on this.” She sent ABC News a link to Twitter’s guidelines for law enforcement:
“Twitter evaluates emergency disclosure requests on a case-by-case basis,” the guidelines say, before explaining how legally dicey this is.
“If we receive information that gives us a good faith belief that there is an emergency involving the death or serious physical injury to a person, we may provide information necessary to prevent that harm, if we have it.”
The guidelines also say that the release of private information “requires a subpoena or court order,” which the NYPD has not yet provided.
As for why the company doesn’t turn over such info immediately, obviously they would to stop an attack, but it’s more complicated than that.
Just as police need probable cause to obtain a warrant or make an arrest, the company likely feels it needs evidence – a court order – to proceed.
If Twitter were to turn over the user’s identity at the first request, it could potentially be liable for any mistake or potential invasion of privacy.