Manhattan DA Subpoenas Twitter to Solve Vexing @BicycleLobby Case

The Twitterverse had a good laugh on July 22, when the Daily News and the Associated Press reported, in all seriousness, that the @BicycleLobby had claimed responsibility for planting white flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. Both outlets reversed course after it was pointed out that @BicycleLobby is a self-identified parody account. But it looks like some people in NYC law enforcement thought they still had a promising lead.

On July 23, the Manhattan DA’s office issued a subpoena to Twitter requesting contact information and IP logs for the @BicycleLobby account and the offending Tweet. @BicycleLobby posted the subpoena online today.

The subpoena includes no details about why the DA’s office is seeking this information, and doesn’t mention the “white flag” incident except to identify the URL of the Tweet.

Here again is the Tweet we’re talking about:

In the past, NYPD has asked the DA’s office to issue subpoenas in cases involving social media accounts, even though the agency has subpoena power itself. The DA’s office declined to comment about this subpoena, and NYPD’s public information desk has not returned Streetsblog’s inquiry.

No word yet on whether police and prosecutors are investigating @BicycleLobby’s threats against the editor of the New Yorker:

  • blindeke


  • • I guess fooling the Associated Press and United Press International wasn’t enough for them. Truly, they are an all-powerful enterprise.

  • JK

    Yes moronic, but, the fax from the DA to Twitter is dated July 23, 2014, and Twitter didnt report it to @bicyclelobby until today August 8. Why? What was Twitter’s legal dept doing the last month? Did Twitter reject the subpeona? Or, did Twitter provide IP addresses without looking into this? If so, that’s a recipe for local law enforcement to subpeona Twitter accounts to intimidate users. I’d like to know what exactly is going on here.

  • Alex

    I don’t know a lot about criminal law, so I’m curious about this whole situation.This sounds like it’s a grand jury investigation and that they’ve been subpoenaed to testify more for informational purposes. Is there a threat of them being charged? I’d love a bit more context on what this means from a legal perspective if someone could offer it.

  • Andres Dee

    “If you fail to produce said items, you may be held in contempt and imprisoned for one year”

    How do they imprison a corporation? Do they jail the mascot?

  • The DA won’t comment and @bicyclelobby says it can’t reveal any more info:

    But the fact that Twitter notified @bicyclelobby suggests that at some point, a judge let them avoid adhering to all the demands in this subpoena.

  • It is a subpoena ordering Twitter to testify before a grand jury. There’s no way to infer the intent of the DA/NYPD with respect to @bicyclelobby at this time.

  • Bolwerk

    Making the justice system in NYC chase its tail seems easy. It should be done more often, considering there are so many bored cops in this city with absolutely nothing useful to do.

  • ocschwar

    Dear Cy Vance:

    If you are spendign more resources on this case than on prosecuting reckless drivers who kill, there is something seriously wrong with you.

  • ocschwar

    Twitter has a record of fighting back against inappropriate subpoenas.

    Which is ironic for a company whose users communicate to the public at large, when other companies *cough*Facebook*cough* are much more obliging.

  • J

    Does Cy Vance really not understand satire????

  • qrt145

    More disturbing than the inability to perceive satire is that they spend any effort in prosecuting harmless pranks while turning a blind eye to violent crimes.

  • lalameda

    In a bird cage?

  • Nathanael

    The NYPD appears to be a bunch of fools. The DA seems to be a fool too, and he needs to stop paying attention to them. The Mayor needs to shut the entire thing down, fire every last police officer in NY, and start fresh. This is going beyond the offensive into the absurd.

  • sammy davis jr jr

    How do we know you’re not the bicycle lobby, Ben?


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