A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Twitter must hand over the identity of a user who made threats against Michelle Bachmann on the network.
According to Politico, the judge determined that prosecutors have a “compelling interest” in identifying the user and following up with a criminal investigation.
Known only as Mr. X in court filings, this user apparently tweeted the following threat against Bachmann:
“I want to f—- Michelle Bachman … with a Vietnam era machete.”
The judge ruled that the identity of this user must be given to a grand jury by Twitter, denying the request to squash the subpoena issued by the legal representatives of the unidentified Mr. X in August.
The judge believes that, although Mr. X might not actually pose a physical threat to Bachmann, the government must have access to identifying information in cases like these to determine whether a threat is credible.
“Unfortunately, an overview of Mr. X’s Twitter page is warranted. Mr. X’s body of tweets is extremely crude and in almost incomprehensibly poor taste. Occasionally political but constantly vacuous, his oeuvre represents an infantile attempt at humor that brings to mind the most obscene aspects of Andrew Dice Clay.”
Twitter’s stance on these issues in the past has been to inform users of government requests for their information before sharing anything with the authorities. Given that Mr. X has already filed a request to squash the subpoena, we can assume that Twitter has informed him of the request. Now it’s up to the company to comply or fight the subpoena itself.