Twitter needs to turn over the identiy of a user who made threats against Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., according to a federal judge's ruling that was released Thursday.
The user was identified as Mr. X in court papers. In August, he posted "I want to f--- Michelle Bachman ... with a Vietnam era machete" in reference to the then Republican presidential candidate. In denying a motion by Mr. X to quash a subpoena issued to Twitter, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of Washington's federal trial court said prosecutors have "a compelling interest" in pursuing a criminal investigation, according to Politico.
We've asked Twitter for comment and will update when we hear back.
Update: "We're not going to comment on specific requests, but, to help users protect their rights, it's our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so," Twitter spokesman Robert Weeks said in an email.
The company's guidelines for law enforcement say that it complies with lawfully-issued subpoenas, but it also notifies users when such a subpoena has been issued.
"Unfortunately, an overview of Mr. X's Twitter page is warranted," Lamberth wrote in his ruling. "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."
No criminal charges have been filed in the case, and Lamberth said the case is not a free speech issue. He noted the information was necessary to ascertain if threats were real, while noting that he did not believe Mr. X would act on his tweets.
"The safety and security of those who seriously aspire to the federal government's highest office is of paramount concern to each and every citizen because threats to presidential candidates undermine the very legitimacy of our electoral process," Lamberth wrote.
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