In compliance with a court ruling by US judge, Matthew Sciarrino, Twitter handed over three months worth of tweets by Malcolm Harris (@destructuremal), an activist with the 2011 US Occupy Movement, according to Reuters.
The information was handed over on Friday 14 September, the last day of the deadline. According to the BBC, Twitter resisted for months but was threatened with a fine and contempt of court. Reuters added Twitter’s lawyers asked the judge to stay his order on Friday but the judge refused. Harris’s lawyer filed for appeal to be heard in court this week, meaning the information will not be looked at yet, said the BBC.
Harris tweeted on Friday “so Twitter handed over a pile of my tweets that’ll stay sealed pending a hearing on the 21st.” In a video released by AP, Harris said “obviously, I’ve been grateful so far for Twitter’s cooperation with my defence. We’re clearly a little disappointed they chose to hand over the documents but they’re still holding them pending a motion’s resolution on the 21st so we’re not out of hope yet.”
Harris took part in an Occupy Wall Street protest on 1 October 2011. He was among hundreds arrested after disrupting traffic in one of the lanes of Brooklyn Bridge, according to Fox News. Harris is charged with disorderly conduct.
According to the BBC, he believes police pushed protesters onto the bridge, enabling them to be arrested. Fox News reported protesters say that they were lured onto the roadway by police and did not hear calls to move onto the pavement. The BBC added the Manhattan district attorney believes Harris’ Tweets prove that he was aware of police’s orders and disregarded them.
These messages are no longer available online so Twitter was forced to provide access to Harris’s account.
The move stokes fears that information on social networks can be used against people. “I think at stake is the, more than my disorderly conduct charge which is relatively low stakes, what’s at stake is how in the future prosecutors go about gathering evidence against protesters, how they end up using people’s political beliefs” Harris told AP. The judge overseeing the case wrote in his decision, “if you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.”
Harris is a writer for The New Inquiry and is described on its website as “a 23-year old writer who has been very vocal in supporting the Occupy Wall Street (“OWS”) Movement.”