In a recent development, Twitter has found itself in hot water due to its delayed response to a search warrant issued by special counsel Jack Smith regarding materials associated with former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. The social media giant has been held in contempt for its sluggish reaction to the warrant, according to court documents released on Wednesday. The search warrant, which targeted “data and records” linked to Trump’s Twitter account (now known as X), was a pivotal aspect of Jack Smith’s investigation into the ex-president’s alleged endeavors to overturn the outcome of the 2020 US election. The Washington court that greenlit the search warrant established “probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses,” as stated in the filing. Despite the public nature of Trump’s Twitter account, the warrant could encompass private messages and unpublished tweet drafts. The investigation has stemmed from charges against Trump, alleging his involvement in a conspiracy to undermine the 2020 election results, in which he was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden. Additionally, Trump is facing accusations relating to his actions preceding, during, and following the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.
Trump entered a plea of not guilty in court the previous week. Notably, Trump’s Twitter account was instrumental in several contentious incidents, including his call to supporters to assemble at a rally in Washington on January 6. In response to the violent events that unfolded that day, Twitter banned Trump from its platform. The court order associated with the search warrant came with a non-disclosure agreement, obligating Twitter to refrain from publicly disclosing information regarding the search warrant. The warrant was served in late January, but Twitter’s management did not communicate with Jack Smith’s team until February. The four-day delay was attributed to Twitter’s objection to the legality of the non-disclosure order. The company contended that the non-disclosure order encroached upon the First Amendment rights outlined in the US Constitution.
Despite Twitter’s argument, the court deemed its challenge against the non-disclosure agreement invalid. Subsequently, Twitter faced consequences in the form of a $350,000 contempt sanction for its failure to adhere promptly to the warrant.In a separate turn of events, after entrepreneur Elon Musk acquired Twitter, the company decided to reinstate Trump’s account, which had been suspended for nearly two years. However, Trump’s account has remained dormant under the handle @realDonaldTrump. Instead, he has chosen to communicate through his platform, Truth Social.This incident underscores the challenges social media platforms encounter when navigating legal obligations, privacy concerns, and freedom of speech rights in an evolving digital landscape.