The stormy ties between Trump administration and major social media sites continue to remain frosty. In a latest development, Twitter sued the US federal government over the issue of unmasking of an anonymous account. According to report, the anonymous account had been critical of Trump and his policies on Twitter. To add to the controversy, it is being alleged that the owner of this anonymous account has ties to a government agency.
In a court filing, Twitter claimed it had received summons directing it to unmask those accounts run under the names @ALT_USCIS. It is being alleged that these accounts were run by current and ex-federal employees. These accounts quickly gained thousands of followers, as they posted critical information and inside scoop about the Trump Administration and its policies.
In its filing, Twitter mentioned that revealing the identity of those anonymous accounts will violate confidentiality agreements. Also, it will put the users at a risk of financial and physical harm. The social media behemoth also invoked the ‘First Amendment’ claiming that the issue here was “on matters of public political life.” The Custom and Border Protection declined to comment on the issue. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has come out in the support of the anonymous users and has made the organization available to represent the case.
A number of accounts, purporting themselves to be ‘inside resistance’ to the Trump Administration sprung up after the inauguration of Donal Trump. These accounts criticized the policies of Trump, causing many in the administration to take notice. Many believe that the government wants to reveal the identity of these accounts so that it can set a precedent for stifling dissent.
This latest development is not a standalone issue, as governments and social media websites have had a rocky relationship around the globe. While governments have necessitated information retrieval for national security, tech and internet companies have stood their ground, in favour of user confidentiality. The most famous of these square-offs also happened in the U.S., when Apple refused to comply with the F.B.I. The matter grabbed media headlines, and eventually F.B.I. used its own expertise to unlock an iPhone that was used by a gunman in an attack in San Bernardino, California.
Trump’s current presidential term is not the only time Twitter has locked horns with the government. During Obama’s tenure, Twitter had filed an appeal in a New York State court to prevent the government from accessing information of a Wall Street protester.