The Daily Mail group has dropped its legal action against a Twitter user who sent up one of its executives - just three days after news barons attempted to slap four criminal charges on the twit.
The retraction of the writ was revealed by the spoof tweeter, UnSteveDorkland, who parodied Steve Auckland, the CEO of the Daily Mail and General Trust's regional newspaper arm Northcliffe Media. The publishing giant, which launched legal action in California to unmask the anonymous Twitter user, has not commented on the case nor its decision to drop charges of hacking, defamation and impersonation.
UnSteveDorkland was however prepared to comment:
By withdrawing the case against me they have, finally, recognised the futility of their heavy-handed approach
Twitter refused to hand over its records that would have identified the user earlier this week after UnSteveDorkland and his lawyer filed an objection. Northcliffe had filed a subpoena demanding Twitter hand over all information about the account.
From what The Reg understands, Twitter's data on the user may not have identified him anyway - simply taking the relatively simple steps of using a throwaway email account and using a service like Tor to attempt to conceal the user's IP address would have been enough to muddy the trail.
Twitter only holds the registered email addresses, a record of login times and IP addresses and any direct messages sent or received by the account, as well as the user's tweet stream.
Many spoof Twitter accounts exist, some more tasteful than others, but they are not outlawed in Twitter's rules, which only state that it forbidden to straight-up impersonate someone else:
Impersonation: You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others
Accounts that clearly label themselves as a spoof or satire are free from this charge. ®