“This means that users are allowed to post potentially inflammatory content, provided that they do not violate the Twitter terms of service and Twitter rules,” Bremer said.

Under the guidelines, Twitter bats responsibility back to the police, urging people feeling threatened by messages to contact their local law enforcement. “Websites do not have the ability to investigate and assess a threat, bring charges or prosecute individuals,” the policy states.

Bremer refused comment on whether Twitter was looking at changing their policies to shoulder more of the rule-making in light of recent UK court cases.

Hyde, the police spokesman, called for a “common sense” approach by police confronted by a Twitter threat. On the same radio program, Steve Evans of the Police Federation, which represents all police officers in England and Wales, noted that forces have another motivation not to overreact to Twitter. “The sheer scale of it is huge,” Evans told Today. “Police resources are stretched almost to breaking point, so if we started trying to investigate every instance of stupidity within Twitter, then we would be really pushed.”

Hazel Sheffield is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @hazelsheffield.