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Twitter is suing the US Government for trying to identify user behind anti-Trump account

By midian182 · 40 replies
Apr 7, 2017
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  1. Everyone knows President Trump loves Twitter, but it seems the microblogging site isn’t a fan of his administration. The company is suing the U.S. government over demands that it reveal the identity of a user behind an anti-Trump account.

    According to Twitter’s suit, a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent named Adam Hoffman sent the firm a summons requesting information that could unmask the person behind Twitter account “@ALT_uscis” – one of several “alt” government accounts that appeared just after Trump took office.

    @ALT_uscis is believed to be run by a rouge member of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. It’s unclear which Tweets the CBP has objected to, but, as you would expect, many of the account’s posts are criticisms of Trump’s immigration policies. The @ALT_uscis bio reads: "Immigration resistance . Team 2.0 1/2 Not the views of DHS or USCIS. Old fellow drank russian soup. #altgov."

    The CBP’s summons requested records that included IP logs, associated phone numbers, and mailing address. Twitter states that it informed the account holder of the demand, and told the CBP it would fight the summons in court.

    Twitter argues that there is no legal reason for the government to demand details of the account. “Defendants have not even attempted to meet that burden. For these and other reasons discussed below, Twitter respectfully requests that this Court declare the summons unlawful and enjoin its enforcement," the lawsuit reads.

    Twitter invoked First Amendment rights to protect the identity of @ALT_uscis: “The rights of free speech afforded Twitter’s users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech," the company wrote in its lawsuit.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is expected to represent the person or persons behind the @ALT_uscis account.

    Permalink to story.

  2. You can bet your bottom dollar that if this account were a rogue federal employee adamantly against an Obama-era policy under that administration, Twitter would giftwrap the credentials.
    SternLX, RSPC*, lostinlodos and 3 others like this.
  3. Bruce V Wayne

    Bruce V Wayne TS Booster Posts: 25   +62

    This case, if the news is not FAKE, would be thrown out. In order for an entity to sue anyone, you have show injury, damage, probable cause. In this article absolutely nothing was shown.
    RSPC* and dorsai like this.
  4. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,359   +603

    I'm not arguing one way or the other regarding the merits of the suit but I believe the alleged "damage" is violation of the Constitution.
    Silvernine, Tanstar and Darth Shiv like this.
  5. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,833   +1,343

    If it was a pro-Trump account Twitter would rush to uncover him and try and get him fired from his job or whatever they do these days.
    RSPC*, lostinlodos, JamesSWD and 4 others like this.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,152   +1,411

    They need to send that Constitution snippet to every college in this country. You'd think the ACLU would be swamped with defending the 1st ammdt. if they made sure conservative opinions weren't silenced on campuses. I'm surprised they have time for this guy.
    RSPC* and dms96960 like this.
  7. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    "Twitter states that it informed the account holder of the demand"

    And FBI/CIA or whatever traced this and now know the culprit and he/she will soon "disappear". Problem solved, thanks twitter.
    RSPC* and dms96960 like this.
  8. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 851   +295

    You really love the us vs them mentality don't you? Oh yeah, and the victim card. Privileged people like you love to pretend to be victimized.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  9. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    That's some logic. Maybe Twitter sent a DM? They can't work out who's posting already...
  10. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,691   +2,064

    Ah, those Orcs again.

    If there is nothing illegal about the account, then there is no legal reason for them to turn over the account info.

    Assuming the sampled tweets are representative of all the tweets posted by the account, there seems to be no threats against Humpty and no threats against the Government. Nor does there seem to be slander. Since it is not an official government account, then it is obvious that it does not express the official position of the government, rather the opinions of those associated with the account. In other words, just like the article says, First Amendment Rights.

    Obviously, this should and will be decided by the courts. Humpty is now in charge of a country that has a well-defined constitution and laws, and as such, is not God ruler of the country like he is of his companies. The courts may very well decide that Humpty's request is in violation of the first amendment. Like it or not, Humpty, and every president regardless of political party, gender, or skin color, is also subject to the rules of the Constitution; Just because Humpty is of foreign descent does not give him the right to apply the rule of the country of his genealogical heritage. Or are you saying that because Humpty is of foreign descent, that he remains of foreign descent, and as such, cannot rule in any other manner than that by his genealogical country of origin? You seem to be trying to make that argument elsewhere.

    I would not call what davis is experiencing privilege. Seem more like delusion in that he seems to think that the Constitution should not apply to Humpty, and since Humpty is president, the constitution should no longer apply to citizens of the US.
    Godel, Silvernine and Panda218 like this.
  11. dorsai

    dorsai TS Rookie Posts: 17

    "privileged people" code word for a SJW in action...I tuned out as soon as you said it...
    JamesSWD and dms96960 like this.
  12. dorsai

    dorsai TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Privacy ends at your front door folks...the internet is public space...you don't have the right to threaten people online and expect no repercussions. How many kids kill themselves due to online bullying ? Does the bully deserve their privacy ? Please. The internet is not private space.
    lostinlodos and wiyosaya like this.
  13. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 658   +202

    If there was a threat or if any classified information was leaked then there was a crime and the summons is legal. Nothing in this article mentions any illegal activity from the Tweeter (Twit?), so it is not a legal summons.
    wiyosaya and Godel like this.
  14. I believe in diversity. And what I am saying is that if the score were different, the play would be different.

    You'd do well to get up to speed on the modern vernacular. The victim card is played when someone blames their circumstances on an oppressor. I played the leftwing bias card, which has a different status effect.
    RSPC*, lostinlodos and dms96960 like this.
  15. So Twitter ban right wing commentators like Milo Yiannoupoulis yet use the first amendment to prevent the US government investigating this?

    Hypocrisy at its finest.
    RSPC*, lostinlodos and JamesSWD like this.
  16. That Other Guy

    That Other Guy TS Enthusiast Posts: 47   +25

    So whats the big deal if twitter seems to be left-wing leaning? and why the heck is anyone surprised about it? do all companies need to be completely neutral? perhaps there should be a right-wing twitter... wonder how popular that'd be? can't call it twitter tho.... needs a better name... suggestions?
  17. No one is surprised. Moreover, companies don't need to be neutral at all. People are merely calling out Twitter for saying they stand for one thing and then doing the opposite when it fits their politics.
    lostinlodos and ScubaRhys like this.
  18. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 658   +202

    If they want to be seen as a platform where people can excise their Free Speech, then yes, they do need to be neutral.
    RSPC*, lostinlodos, ScubaRhys and 2 others like this.
  19. Silvernine

    Silvernine TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +36

    What's not explained in the article is that the summon that was sent Adam Hoffman was asking for the Twitter user's information by invoking a law that is related with granting border officials the power to investigate whether taxes are paid on imported merchandise (19 U.S. Code § 1509 - Examination of books and witnesses). Plus the summon was not even signed by a judge. Basically the summon is unsigned by a judge and cited the wrong law.

    For those who complained about Twitter banning Milo and the likes, the difference was one was harassing others and the other (this case) was expressing dissent about Trump's administration. I think one is covered by the 1st Amendment while the other is not.
    wiyosaya and Godel like this.
  20. JamesSWD

    JamesSWD TS Maniac Posts: 331   +182

    "...it seems the microblogging site isn’t a fan of his administration."
    -- Techspot's just finding this out? Twitter, as a company, absolutely hates Trump and anything/anyone that's not hard left progressive.
    ScubaRhys likes this.
  21. JamesSWD

    JamesSWD TS Maniac Posts: 331   +182

    Companies can have whatever views they want, but that's not the issue. The issue is that companies use those views to discriminate against customers who don't share that view. And that's illegal. Twitter is well known to be hard left progressive...and they can be that...but it's also well known and detested how they discriminate against conservatives and their pages. Facebook is also guilty of the same behavior. And it's getting worse.
    ScubaRhys likes this.
  22. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,691   +2,064

    The govt withdrew the summons - and twitter dropped the lawsuit - http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/comp...suit-filed-over-anti-trump-account/ar-BBzxqoz

    My bet is that if it was the Obama administration, they never would have issued the summons in the first place because they would have recognized free speech rights. Humpty and the current admin think they are Gods and that everyone shudders before them.
    Absolutely - this IS First Amendment Rights and an overbearing administration thinking that everyone besides them is stupid and will just roll over and play dead even when they play a card that is not even in the deck.

    And of course, twitter should just fall over to a bullsh!t summons. Right. Praise the lord God Humpty!

    Any comparison between Milo's ponderings and this account is an egregious malapropism.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
    Silvernine likes this.
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,691   +2,064

    It is not illegal for a company to ban speech that incites violence. Just because you might share the views of those who wish to incite violence does not make such speech legal, nor does banning such accounts and leaving this one intact indicate that twitter, or others, are backing a political viewpoint. Perhaps you should educate yourself on the law regarding speech that incites violence - http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Inciting,+Provocative,+or+Offensive+Speech

    As I see it, the account posting these tweets is in no way inciting violence. Maybe one of these days, people like you will understand that free speech does not, within the bounds of the US Constitution and laws in the US that have been tested before SCOTUS, include saying anything and everything you please.
  24. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,691   +2,064

    Twitter, and others, have to stay within the bounds of the law. And oh, by the way, so does Humpty.
  25. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,691   +2,064

    Ah, someone who gets it! The internet is not a private space - especially in a PUBLIC forum!

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