Twitter has lost a legal battle to protect a US citizen who is facing disorderly conduct charges for taking part in a 700-strong Occupy Wall Street protest on the Brooklyn Bridge last year.
New York prosecutors claim that Malcolm Harris's tweets, which have since been removed from the site, will prove that he and other protesters were deliberately ignoring police orders not to go onto the bridge – a charge which he denies.
A Manhattan court gave the social media giant until last Friday to hand over Malcolm Harris's tweets. The company fought hard against the order, which goes against its own user protection policies. But following a failed appeal and a last minute plea to the court last week, it eventually handed over the data.
The information remains under seal until Harris's own appeal is argued in court this week, although the previous court ruling means his chances don't look good. If convicted, he faces a maximum fine of $250 – but the bigger point here is the dangerous precedent this sets for all social media platforms. Will this ruling mean that internet companies do not have the legal right to protect their users’ privacy in the US, the land of free speech?
Should Twitter have handed over the information or faced the fine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Read more: Check out Slate's analysis on why Twitter caved.
Sources: BBC, Wall Street Journal, PCMag, Guardian, Wired, Reuters, Slate