Do you think someone forfeits their right to privacy if they post a threat online?
"This s--- ain’t no joke yo I’m serious people are gonna die just like in aurora." Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty disturbing thing to read on Twitter, and apparently police agreed, because they've been working to uncover the identity of whoever posted several threatening tweets aimed at people attending an event in New York City.
Oddly enough, the event in question was a one-man Broadway show by Mike Tyson called Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. Someone appears to have a serious grudge against the former heavyweight champ, or maybe they just like freaking people out -- either way, a world of trouble may be coming their way now that the NYPD forced Twitter to divulge the user's private information.
Police say an unidentified person posted that he or she knew that the theater left its exit doors unlocked and was going to plan the shooting "step by step." Another tweet from the same account read,
I'm in Florida rite now, but it'll happen i promise I'm just finishing up my hit list.
Cops originally asked Twitter to turn over the user's account info, but Twitter declined to cooperate, saying,
We appreciate the timeliness and sensitivity of this matter, and have reviewed the reported Twitter account. 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 parameter as per our policies.
I don't really blame them, because this sure seems like a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Maybe this person is just screwing around. Maybe they really are planning to shoot up a Broadway show. How can you possibly determine what's true and what isn't, based on a couple of rogue tweets?
The NYPD was in a similar rock/hard place position, and ultimately made the choice to 1) dispatch some cops to the cover the theater, and 2) use a subpoena to force Twitter's hand. The social media site has now turned over the user's account info, and as of right now, there's no further news on whether or not police were able to find the person responsible for the tweets.
The question of whether or not police should be able to access your private online information based on some weird tweets is a complicated one, don't you think? On the one hand, can you imagine the ridiculous effort of tracking down and investigating every crazy, potentially-dangerous-sounding message someone posted via social media? On the other hand, with the Aurora killings so fresh in our minds, it seems equally awful to just ignore such a blatant, specific threat.
Personally, I have zero answers to this. I can agree that it's better safe than to be sorry ... but I'm also certain that mentality is what led us to our current TSA situation.
What's your take on this incident? Do you think someone forfeits their right to privacy if they post a threat online?