Among many other things, the warrant sought the former president’s tweets (including drafts), likes, retweets, and any direct messages “sent from, received by, stored in draft form in, or otherwise associated with” his account, @realDonaldTrump.
Twitter engineers were able to provide what Twitter lawyer George Varghese previously called “confidential communications” associated with the account. He said that an initial analysis showed that “some volume” of direct messages was present on the account but didn’t say exactly how many messages that amounted to. Ari Holtzblatt, another attorney for Twitter, hinted that the data the company’s engineers pulled may include deleted direct messages, too. The company pulled three separate versions of Trump’s Twitter data, and not all of it was available to review at the time of the hearing in February.
One dataset came from Trump’s account as it existed then in the company’s production environment, while two others came from “prior preservations of the subject account,” dated January 3rd–9th, 2021, and January 11th–12th, 2021, respectively. Holtzblatt added that the latter snapshot contained data going back to 2006. He said later that Twitter engineers “were able to pull [data that] included deleted direct messages and not just nondeleted” ones.
Twitter’s lawyer wasn’t aware the company had even been served a warrant
However, Holtzblatt told the court, because the January 11th–12th, 2021, data came from a non-production environment and contained data covering such a long time period, the company would need to redact it manually. Holtzblatt didn’t believe the company was obliged by the January warrant to produce the full range and thought redacting a full version of that preservation would take three or four months. He said engineers were working to trim it down and that he was “hopeful” it would be finished that day.
The data Twitter served up on February 9th was in response to a warrant the court issued on January 19th. A lawyer for the company, which was (and still largely seems to be) in disarray at the time following the takeover by Elon Musk, reportedly told prosecutors days later she wasn’t aware the company had even been served a warrant.
Twitter has increasingly been giving up information to governments. Between October 27th, 2022, and April 26th, 2023, the company was hit by 971 requests from governments around the world. It complied with 808 of them in full and did so partially for another 154, said a report in Rest of World earlier this year.
Here’s the full transcript of those February hearings: