As we watched in horror at the Aurora, Colo. shooting tragedy that took place on July 20, Twitter became the source of up-to-date information about the senseless violence that took place in and around the movie theater.
News outlets kept the public informed and millions weighed in with their condolences and opinions on the social network.
It’s become common place now for Twitter to be the best option to receive news and voice opinions on any particular subject. The company has built an empire on providing a platform to everyone from the average Joe to large corporations to engage fellow users and to advertise their brands.
And now, the bad side of Twitter has shown its ugly face and has the social networking site on the verge of a public relations nightmare.
According to NBC New York, the NYPD will subpoena Twitter on Tuesday, August 7, in hopes of forcing the site to identify a user who threatened to execute a "Batman"-style shooting rampage at a Broadway theater.
In reference to the Colorado shooting, the twitter tweeted: "This s---t ain't no joke yo -- I'm serious, people are gonna die like aurora.”
The report reveals that the violent-laden tweets began last week and included a similar threat to the Longacre Theatre, where Mike Tyson is currently performing his one-man show "Undisputed Truth."
Despite the obvious, detailed tweets, Twitter has refused to turn over the user’s information to the authorities. The story reports that in an e-mail, the site told police it did not appear the tweet in question fell within its parameters for invoking emergency-disclosure procedures.
Sure, threats happen on social media. But in the wake of the Colorado shooting, police presence at theaters around the country has increased and other precautions have taken place. So why wouldn’t Twitter cooperate?
What does Twitter’s refusal to give up the name of the tweeter do for its reputation? Is the right of Twitter to not reveal the user’s information worth the PR hit it will most certainly take if a tragedy does take place?
Protecting your brand is one thing, but when the situation calls for it, organizations have to put protocol aside and user common sense to not just avoid controversy in the public eye, but to protect others.
Here's to hoping Twitter makes the right choice.
Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson