NYPD battled Twitter over threat to Mike Tyson show

NYPD battled Twitter for access to user information. In the aftermath of the Aurora and Sikh temple mass shootings, the New York Police Department isn't taking any chances when it comes to online threats.

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    A member of the NYPD Counterterrorism Division monitors outside Penn Station during a joint anti-terrorism drill in New York. The NYPD battled Twitter for information on a user that posted threats.
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The New York Police Department subpoenaed Twitter in order to obtain “personal information” about one of the social network’s users who made online threats reminiscent of alleged Aurora gunman James Holmes.

The NYPD suspects the user’s tweets are directed at the audience of the “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” Broadway show directed by Spike Lee, according to The New York Times.

“This s--- ain’t no joke yo I’m serious people are gonna die just like in aurora,” one tweet read. Others included, “I’m in Florida rite now, but it’ll happen i promise I’m just finishing up my hit list,” “I might just shoot up this theater in New York,” and “I got 600 people on my hit list and that’s gonna be a mass murder for real.”

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The New York Post cited the user’s Twitter handle as @obamasmistress, with the display name “Anonymous Celebrity.”

Twitter denied police access to the user’s personal information and IP address on Aug. 3, but the California-based company decided to comply with the court order served Aug. 6.

“We appreciate the timeliness and sensitivity of this matter, and have reviewed the reported Twitter account,” Twitter said in an email to the NYPD before Monday’s subpoena, according to the Times. “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 parameters as per our policies.”

Police have not said whether they have identified the Twitter user.

The NYPD court order has reignited the freedom of speech debate regarding social networks’ obligations to the law and whether police can punish users for tweeting potential threats.

“Social media is of increasing importance to law enforcement and criminal prosecutions,” Larry Cunningham, associate professor dean at St. John’s University School of Law and oncetime criminal prosecutor, told CBS News. “In general, social media outlets do a very good job of cooperating with authorities, but in this case, however, Twitter should have given the information without a court order under their emergency procedures policy. The threats were clear enough.”

Westword blogger Michael Roberts said the tweets are probably a “failed gag,” but acknowledged that “in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, as well as the Sikh temple massacre in Wyoming, police are going to err on the side of caution.”

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