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Court orders Twitter to unmask Dark Knight copycat killer wannabe

Cops slap on subpoena after Tyson show threat tweets

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Twitter has given cops details of a tweeter who threatened to go on a shooting rampage at a performance of ex-boxer Mike Tyson's one-man show.

A US court compelled the social network to hand over records it holds on the user a full three days after an initial request from New York police was ignored by the website's team.

The dossier of information was sought after a person using the Twitter account threatened to carry out a mass-killing similar to the shooting attack at a screening of Batman - The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado on 20 July. A 24-year-old man, James Holmes, stands accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 in the movie theatre attack.

Tyson – a regular Twitter user – is appearing in a play about his life, directed by Spike Lee, on Broadway. The show made its New York debut last Friday.

The NYPD took action after being notified of the disturbing threat directed at the heavyweight boxing champ – and presumably the audience attending the show – via the micro-blogging site. The New York cops demanded that Twitter comply with the order to help reveal the identity of the troll, the New York Times reported. Twitter typically records when and from which IP addresses its users login from.

But the emergency request sent to California-based Twitter from the police force was initially rebuffed.

Tweets from the troll on Twitter reportedly included comments such as “I’m serious, people are gonna die like Aurora”; “I might just shoot up this theater in New York”; “I know they leave their exit doors unlocked”; and “I got 600 people on my hit list and that’s gonna be a mass murder for real”.

But in the early hours of Saturday morning, Twitter dismissed the request and told the NYC cops in an email message cited by the NYT:

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 parameters as per our policies.

By late Monday, a subpoena had been slapped on Twitter by a Manhattan District Attorney judge, after the police argued that "immediate cooperation" was necessary.

Twitter declined to comment on this story.

Here in the UK, a teenager was arrested on suspicion of malicious communications after Brit Olympic diver Tom Daley was swamped by abusive tweets late last month. The menacing messages included a threat to drown the swimmer. ®

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