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Nebraska school district sues to identify its Twitter critic

By JOSH FUNKFebruary 5, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A southeast Nebraska school district wants a court to help it learn who is behind a Twitter account that has targeted the district and superintendent.

Friend Public Schools says the unknown person behind the Friend Bulldog account has made false, libelous and defamatory statements accusing Superintendent David Kraus or the district of public indecency and other offenses. The account has been active since last fall.

In a Jan. 7 post, Kraus’ face was positioned over actor Jim Carrey’s in a poster for Carrey’s movie “Liar Liar.” Another post from September of last year compared Kraus to Adolf Hitler.

The district’s attorney, Justin Knight, also said in the lawsuit filed last week that the Twitter account might be mistaken for the district’s official one because it uses a picture of the Friend Bulldog mascot.

“The goal is to clear the reputations of the individuals that have been targeted in the account,” Knight said.

District officials made other efforts to contact the online critic and resolve the issue — including an open invitation from the school board — but those weren’t successful. Knight said the district didn’t decide to file the lawsuit until after several other district employees were singled out. The district in Friend, Nebraska, is about 40 miles southwest of Lincoln.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported on the lawsuit first.

On Saturday, the person behind the Twitter account posted, “The name’s Doe, John Doe.” The individual later added, “I can’t believe you guys guessed my real name!”

The person didn’t immediately respond to a Twitter message that The Associated Press sent Monday seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for Twitter said Monday she was looking into the case and couldn’t immediately comment. But the social media company describes online how it handles legal requests for user information. Twitter says it tries to notify users about a request and then reviews the request before deciding whether to comply or object to it.

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