A federal judge ruled that social networking giant, Twitter, must hand over all information to federal investigators about a user, known as "Mr. X," after he posted violent tweets concerning presidential candidate Rep. Michelle Bachman, according to a Yahoo News article.
Chief Judge Royce Lamberth stated, "Mr. X's body of tweets is extremely crude and in almost incomprehensibly poor taste." And even though, the judge does not believe that "Mr. X" intends to carry out his threats to physically harm Bachman with a "Vietnam era machete," he believes that authorities have a responsibility to investigate his threats and determine their legitimacy.
Lamberth further stated that"[t]he safety and security of those who seriously aspire to the federal government's highest office is of paramount concern to each and every citizen." And "Threats to presidential candidates undermine the very legitimacy of our electoral process."
No charges have been filed against "Mr. X."
People often use Twitter to voice questionable or bold views while hiding behind the guise of anonymity that the social networking provides. However, the decision here demonstrates that the severity of a person's tweets, regardless of that person's intent to carry them out, could be subject to discovery and may even lead to criminal charges if the tweet demonstrates that the subject of the tweet could potentially be harmed.
Accordingly, It will be interesting to see if Lamberth's decision has a deterrent effect on those who freely voice violent tweets in the political arena and other arenas as well.
If I were active in political debate via Twitter I would hold back on the violent tweets in the near future.
What do you think?
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