Just when you think nothing else about the Sony hacking episode can surprise you, along comes another bizarre twist.
The latest involves Sony making legal threats against indie singer and songwriter Val Broeksmit of Bikini Robot Army for his prolific tweeting about the company’s hacked emails and documents. Broeksmit, a New Yorker who recently moved to Marin County after living in London for six years, said he’s still not sure how seriously to take the threats or even how to respond.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’ve been staring at my computer, thinking I have to come up with this ultimate, great tweet. I don’t have a lawyer. I’m just going to play it out.”
Broeksmit tweets at @BikiniRobotArmy, where he now has just over 19,000 followers. He became fascinated by news of the Sony hacking episode a few weeks ago and started digging into some of the leaked documents himself. On Dec. 13, he started posting screenshots of emails and documents he thought were newsworthy or interesting.
“They’re a billion dollar company,” Broeksmit said. “A billion dollar company has never been laid bare like this before.”
He figured lots of news sites and blogs were also covering the story and didn’t imagine what he was doing might stand out. But late last week, Broeksmit got a notification from Twitter that his account had been suspended over a tweet that violated its terms of services.
Apparently, one of his screenshots included email addresses of Sony employees. While he generally redacts email addresses on the screenshots, he had forgotten to redact those. After 24 hours, the tweet was deleted and his account was restored.
Then he received an email from someone claiming to be a Sony lawyer that said:
“We have noticed that you posted some images on Twitter of content that was stolen from Sony in the recent criminal cyber-attack. Rather than complaining to Twitter and risk them taking action against your account, we thought we’d get in touch first and ask if you would remove the tweets that we’ve identified below.”
Broeksmit ignored it, until he got a copy of a notice Sony sent to Twitter. This one came from its top attorney on this hacking incident, David Boies, who asked Twitter to suspend the account and prevent any other users from tweeting about the stolen information.
So far, Twitter has not taken down his account, but it did forward him a copy of the letter. Initially, he went into a bit of a panic.
“I was freaking out last night,” Broeksmit said. “When I got the email from Sony, I was like, ‘What the f***.’ I thought they were going to come and take baseball bats to my hard drive and take all my stuff and bury it in radioactive waste.”
But after the story got out, Broeksmit said he was heartened by all the support he’s been getting from other folks on Twitter.
“It feels really good,” he said. “It feels kinda cool.”
For the moment, Broeksmit said he’s waiting to hear more from Sony. At this point, he doesn’t know when or if there is a deadline for him to respond. But there is still a part of him that has a hard time believing any of it is really happening.
“It’s so weird,” he said. “It’s all so ridiculous.”