Twitter Drops Suit After U.S. Gives Up on Unmasking Trump Critic

  • U.S. withdraws summons day after suit filed to block demand
  • Adminstration wanted identity of so-called ALT handle user

Twitter Thwarts Government Effort to Unmask Trump Critic

Twitter Inc. is dropping its free-speech lawsuit against the Trump administration over the government’s effort to unmask users critical of the president’s policies.

Twitter said in a court filing Friday, one day after it filed the case, that the U.S. had withdrawn its summons to learn the identity of one of the so-called ALT handles purported to be the work of current and former federal employees who have slammed Trump’s policies.

“Because the summons has now been withdrawn, Twitter voluntarily dismisses without prejudice all claims against defendants,” the company said in the filing in San Francisco federal court.

The case had highlighted the administration’s sensitivity to criticism from within the federal bureaucracy on Twitter feeds that mimic those of government agencies. When the official Twitter account of the National Park Service re-tweeted an image comparing the Jan. 20 inauguration day crowd size to the larger one at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Trump personally called the acting park service director to complain, according to a Washington Post report cited in the complaint.

The park service temporarily shut down its Twitter feed, spawning the activation of a series of “rogue” alternative accounts managed by current or former government employees. The Trump administration’s summons sought data to determine the identity of those behind an account called, @ALT_USCIS.

The case is Twitter Inc. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 17-01916, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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