Should Twitter cooperate with the law if someone tweets a mass shooting threat?

Story here

So, should Twitter cooperate or not?

…Contrary to what the article says, they’re not actually expecting the user’s name, are they? Because my Twitter account is registered to my rabbit’s identity.

Twitter has little choice now that a subpoena has been issued. They also acknowledged an emergency disclosure policy regarding immediate threats, which this does not appear to be. I don’t fault them for the way they’ve handled this one.

They should (and will) cooperate with an appropriate court order, search warrant or the like. If there was no warrant, Twitter did the right thing.

If it’s important enough to require disclosure of data, it’s important enough for the police to do it the right way.

And what exactly makes you assume that your rabbit isn’t capable of plotting a mass shooting?

Of course they should, threats over the internet are still real threats. And they are treated as such by (for example) Blizzard Entertainment. If you threaten suicide or homicide in a Blizzard game and it gets reported by another player (as it should), they will *absolutely *send cops to your door.

The efficacy of such measures depends largely upon having accurate contact information for your customers, though. Twitter is unlikely to have this information for many of their members. But they should still turn over what information they have and let the authorities investigate.

I’d be very surprised if that was the case as a general rule, though I don’t doubt there are rare and isolated examples. I used to handle those kinds of complaints for an online service, and I’m still tangentially involved in that. For every one that might be real, there are a thousand that are bogus, either misinterpreted or exaggerated by the person complaining (often deliberately), or the result of a hacked account. Even most government and law enforcement requests are bogus, either entirely fake, or a real officer fishing for info with an informal request, or certain regimes trying to harass critics.

And in the case of Blizzard, and the gaming space in general, it’d be much worse, rival teenagers trying to get revenge on their opponents.

In the case of this Twitter example, the chances that the threat was genuine are very small. It’s almost certainly an empty threat, not someone tweeting as they walk out the door with guns at the ready. Either a hoax, or some idiot who wants attention. So if a crime has been committed, the tweet itself is probably the start and end of it, or at least the central piece of evidence. If Twitter were to hand over account details without a warrant or subpoena, any case against the person making the threat would very likely be ruined.

There’s no reason the police can’t quickly get a warrant and make a request through the proper channels. I have no doubt that Twitter would have responded promptly if that’d been done in the first place.

My ferret plans them all the time, but the lack of opposable thumbs keeps getting in the way of carrying them out. That, and a lousy credit rating. Hard to order thousands of rounds of ammo over the internet when no one will give you credit.

Other. They should and do cooperate with a subpoena or warrant.

A great many cases like this (like AT&T giving the FBI or NSA or somebody) all the data they want just for the asking (a few years ago in their San Francisco office IIRC), these cause so much controversy because the police or FBI or whoever just feel they shouldn’t be bothered to go to a court and get a search warrant. Seems like there are always cases where police gather information that should require a warrant but without bothering to get one, then they get into big arguments in court to justify why they didn’t need a warrant, and why the evidence should be admitted. Seems like we read of cases like that quite regularly.

Damn it, cops! When you want to snoop, just go to a judge and get a damn warrant (if you can). And if you can’t convince a judge to issue a warrant, well, maybe you shouldn’t be doing whatever snooping you want. That was the whole point of warrants.

Sounds like a case here where, sure, the cops should have gotten a warrant, but didn’t, and eventually they did.

Damn cops so often think they need to thumb their noses at procedures like that just to show who’s got the biggest dicks or something.

ETA: (Takes a minute to actually read the linked article.) Wait a minute. Can the police subpoena stuff like that at their own initiative? Or do they need a warrant or similar court order?

I’m pretty sure my rabbit is planning one. It appears his first act has been to mesmerise one of my cats - outright hostility one minute, all snuggles and cuddles the next. Suspicious I says.

Oh and have you ever looked an angry rabbit in the face - brrrrrrrr there’s death in that thar look.

Oh, I didn’t say that! He’s quite clever.

My ferrets used to steal my wallet and knock the handset of the phone onto the floor. I took this as direct evidence that they were working up to mail order. (They really should have gotten onto my computer instead; being unable to actually speak English would have been their next hurdle.)

madrabbitwoman: Indeed there is.
Aaaaannnnd, to get back on topic, it doesn’t sound like an actual emergency, so I have no issues with how Twitter is handling it. Dude sounds like he’s just trolling, and even if he’s not, it’s not the “bomb going off somewhere in 15 minutes, here’s a picture I’m totally serious here” sort of situation.

Warrants take time. A threat like this should just be automatically reported to the cops. Put it in the agreement, and there’s no legal problem.

Warrants take minutes. If it’s not important enough for the police to follow the proper procedure, why should Twitter take it more seriously?