A Twitter user has threatened to shoot up Mike Tyson’s one-man show at the Longacre Theater in midtown, pitting the NYPD against Twitter for the user’s identity in yet the latest Internet battle of safety versus privacy rights and freedom of speech. The NYPD was denied in its initial request for information, but is coming back today with a subpoena, according to the Post. For now, police officers are being stationed at the theater “until we find this guy,” police spokesman Paul Browne says.
The Post didn’t name the Twitter handle in its story, but we found @obamasmistress through a simple search of some of the threatening tweets. Here they are!
Kind of scary! Yet Twitter explained its decision to withhold the user’s information from the NYPD thusly:
“We appreciate the timeliness and sensitivity of this matter, and have reviewed the reported Twitter account,” the e-mail said.
“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.”
So what about this doesn’t seem like a present, specific, and immediate threat, according to Twitter? Perhaps it was that @obamasmistress has also threatened to kill just about everyone, including Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Ellen Page, Rihanna, Perez Hilton, and Wendy Williams:
In other words, @obamasmistress appears to be your garden variety troll. Could Twitter err on the side of safety here? Sure. But it’s making a judgement call that the massacre threat is not credible enough to warrant compromising a user’s free-speech rights. Now if “Anonymous Celebrity” was criticizing the Olympics, that would be a different story.