A search warrant for Trump’s Twitter records revealed, fines imposed on Twitter

The warrant led to a $350,000 fine imposed on the social media company for missing compliance deadlines.

Trump Tower in Chicago in USA

Court documents have disclosed that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team secured a search warrant in January to access records connected to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. This move prompted a $350,000 fine against Twitter for failing to meet the deadline for compliance. The court dismissed Twitter’s argument that it shouldn’t have faced contempt or sanctions.

The search warrant’s purpose is unclear, but it might involve data about tweet creation, engagement, and reposting accounts. Issued on 17 January, it required Twitter to provide Trump’s account information, backed by probable cause of criminal activity. A nondisclosure agreement prevented Twitter from revealing the warrant, as disclosing it could let Trump tamper with evidence. Twitter resisted, citing First Amendment rights, worried that pre-judgment disclosure could obstruct executive privilege claims. The company fully complied by Feb. 9. Twitter, now called X, didn’t comment. Smith’s team declined to comment on the specifics of the warrant or its purpose.

Why does it matter?

The warrant coincided with a period of transformation at Twitter under Musk’s ownership. Changes included reducing staff addressing misinformation, eliminating the COVID-19 policy, and allowing previously banned users like Trump back onto the platform. Notably, Trump had used Twitter to disseminate false election-related claims and incite supporters before the January 6 Capitol attack. These shifts have prompted conversations around the delicate equilibrium between freedom of expression and the accountability of platform owners in content moderation. They underline the potential for social media to influence political narratives and enable anti-democratic movements.