June 19, 2013
Twitter Fights the Man
Posted on Jan 12, 2011
When the Justice Department hit Twitter with a court order demanding the private data of certain users associated with WikiLeaks, the G-men might have expected that the social networking site would wilt like the half-dozen easily bullied companies that have cut off the whistle-blower, but Twitter, in the words of Wired’s Ryan Singel, “beta-tested a spine.”
Not only did the government want this data, but it wanted Twitter to keep quiet about handing it over. To that end, Justice secured a gag order. Twitter fought the gag order in order to inform those users under investigation and give them a chance to organize a defense.
Twitter has been integral to WikiLeaks’ attempts to stay afloat in the face of relentless attacks on its servers, finances and personnel. It is also a private company, and those tend to react rather cowardly to government pressure. Behold Amazon, PayPal, Facebook, Mastercard, Visa and Bank of America.
Surely the United States government would claim vital interests in its pursuit of Twitter data, but so too would the government of Iran. Let us not forget how Twitter enabled protesters in that country to resist their government.
For the most part private corporations own the means of communication, and the only avenues for resistance and free expression. It is nice to see one consider the interests of its users for a change. —PZS
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