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Trump Administration Gives Up Effort to Unmask Twitter Critic

The government reportedly withdrew its request for Twitter to reveal the user behind the @ALT_USCIS account.
Photo via @ALT_uscis Twitter account

It looks like Twitter won't be facing off against the Trump administration in court any time soon. On Friday, officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly dropped their summons requesting Twitter unmask the user behind the @ALT_USCIS account.

According to Reuters, Twitter decided to withdraw the lawsuit it filed Thursday in response. Back in March, CBPreportedly slapped the tech giant with a summons "demanding that Twitter provide them records that would unmask, or likely lead to unmasking, the identity of the person(s) responsible for the @ALT_USCIS account." In an effort to block the government from finding out who was behind the account, Twitter filed a lawsuit to block the summons, citing free speech protections.

"Permitting CBP to pierce the pseudonym of the @ALT_USCIS account would have a grave chilling effect on the speech of that account in particular and on the many other 'alternative agency' accounts that have been created to voice dissent to government policies," Twitter states in the lawsuit. "The Supreme Court has long recognized the extraordinary value of the kind of speech emanating from these accounts—pure political speech criticizing government policies and highlighting government waste and mismanagement."

"Alternative agency" Twitter accounts like @ALT_USCIS started popping up right after Trump was elected, and are thought in some cases to be run by rogue government staffers under the new administration who want to share their opposing views. There's now @altNPSandEPA, @AltStateDpt, and @Alt_NASA, among many others.

In recent weeks the alternative US Citizenship and Immigration Services account had been criticizing the new administration's approach to immigration, including ICE raids and the plan for Trump's "great wall." According to CNBC, the account is thought to be run by at least one federal immigration employee.