It’s no secret that social networking has led to a lot of people saying a lot of things they normally wouldn’t thanks to the anonymity the internet provides. If you really want to see how ugly comments on the internet can get just check out any thread in the IMDb forums. Heck, even an article about Harry Potter on a children’s website can dissolve into an anti-liberal or anti-conservative political tirade in a matter of ten comments thanks to mass sharing on sites like Facebook. Anyone can jump in and say anything they want no matter how bizarre or how far removed from the material their thoughts may be. You see this sort of thing all the time on social media like Facebook, Tumblr, and Reddit. People have gotten in a lot of trouble for their mad and comments using these forums.
You would think that Twitter would be exempt from this situation. With Twitter’s 140-character limit it would seem that the average person would have a very hard time incriminating themselves with a comment so terrible that it might cause an internet uproar. Needless to say, not only do 140-character Tweets cause more than their fair share of uproar, but they have also led to a number of arrests. If you don’t want to get arrested for your tweets it is advised that you follow these simple rules:
7. Don’t Ever Tweet Pink Lyrics Before Going To A Pink Concert
On his way to a Pink concert, David King Jr. tweeted “I’m ready with my Bomb. Time to blow up #RodLaverArena Bit**.” Out of context the tweet does come off as a bomb threat but King probably had no way of expecting his tweet could be misconstrued as such a thing. It was a direct reference to the Pink song “Timebomb” directed at the venue where she would be performing in just a matter of hours. When King arrived at the Rod Laver Arena police showed King a photo of himself and asked if it was him. When he answered in the affirmative (expecting nothing wrong. He just knew the picture was of him) he was immediately arrested.
King’s father would go on to say in a radio interview that the police officers realized it was a misunderstanding and just wanted to send him home. It was the Rod Laver Arena that pushed for the arrest on public nuisance charges.
6. Don’t Threaten To Kill An Entire Town Because You’re Mad At George Zimmerman
On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin while on unofficial neighbourhood watch duty. Unless they were living under a rock, just about everyone knew about this story as it took up a lot of media attention; Especially when the shooting went to trial. It caused a lot of debate in the United States concerning both gun control and racial profiling. Everyone had an opinion on the subject and tempers ran high.
Due to his strong feelings on the subject, a 15-year old Zion high school sophomore named “Mark” tweeted before the verdict, “If Zimmerman leaves free imma shoot everybody in Zion causing a mass homicide, and ill get away wit it just like Zimmerman”.
“Mark” was later arrested by the Zion Police Department. After an investigation it was discovered “Mark” had no weapons nor did he have access to weapons. Police determined there was no credibility to the threat and “Mark” was let go with only a Class 4 felony charge of disorderly conduct.
5. If You Threaten To Kill A President, It Will Always Be Taken Seriously
Threatening to kill a president will never be taken lightly by the U.S. Secret Service. After tweeting “Ima hit President Obama with that Lee Harvey Oswald swagg” (a reference to the assassination of former United States President John F. Kennedy), Donte Jamar Sims of North Carolina was arrested, plead guilty to the charge, and was later sentenced to six months in prison by a federal judge. It can be assumed the harsh penalty was due to the fact that Sims didn’t start and stop with one tweet. Sims went on to tweet, “Plotting president Obama’s murder”, and “The Secret Service is gonna be defenseless once I aim the Assault Rifle at Barack’s Forehead” among other tweets. It should also be noted President Obama was scheduled to speak in North Carolina some time after the tweets were posted.
Sims claims he only posted the tweets because he was high from smoking marijuana.
4. Tracking and Posting Police Movement Is Hindering Apprehension
For Elliot Madison there was a lot more going on with his situation than simple tasteless tweeting.
After protesters at the G20 Summit meeting in Pittsburgh were told to disperse, self proclaimed anarchist Elliot Madison began tweeting police movement to protesters so they could avoid arrest. Later, Pennsylvania State Police found Madison in a hotel room with computers and police scanners used to track the police. He was apparently taking information on police whereabouts from these sources and then posting to Twitter.
Unfortunately for Elliot he wasn’t simply charged with hindering apprehension. Because of his make-shift “lab” Elliot was also charged with criminal use of a communication facility and possession of instruments of crime.
Elliot and his lawyer both claimed that no laws were broken.
3. If You Know Someone Who Is Unstable, Keep Them Away From The Internet
In 2009 a 52-year old man by the name of Daniel Hayden was arrested in Oklahoma on a federal charge of making interstate threats using Twitter. Where to begin with Daniel Hayden? He didn’t just keep his comments to Twitter. Apparently Hayden used the name Citizen Quasar all over the internet, including a blog where he posted his belief in the “New World Order” and insisted President Barrack Obama used hypnosis on American citizens through television signals.
Unfortunately for Daniel, Twitter was his downfall when he tweeted several statements like “Send the cops around. I will cut their heads of the heads and throw the on the State Capitol steps” and “Of course they will kill me BUT life is no longer worth living.”
Fortunately for Daniel, a federal judge must have noticed he was not well and only sentenced him to a half-way house.
According to Wired magazine, this may be the first time anyone was arrested for statements made using Twitter.
2. Don’t Taunt Police Into Catching You After You’ve Committed A Crime
“And I would have gotten away with it too! If it wasn’t for those pesky Tweets and their meddling dog!”
This one seems hard to believe but it’s true. After failing to appear in court for charges of disability and insurance fraud, California woman Wanda Podgurski set up a Twitter account specifically to taunt authorities while on the run!
Wanda taunted police with tweets like “On the run possibly in Iran” and “Help find me before I con anyone else”. Most of the of the other Twitter accounts she followed were FBI and law enforcement agencies. She even posted “Catch me if you can” to a district attorney’s Twitter account.
The district attorney did not disclose exactly how Wanda was located but did mention Wanda’s account information was turned over to a Computer and Technology Crime division.
1. Never Under Any Circumstances Should You Threaten An Airport With A Bomb
Just do a Google search for “twitter and airport threats” and you’ll learn in no time that this is a very bad idea. Arrests for angry airline customers tweeting bomb threats to the airlines that spurned them have happened a lot but most recently to a 14-year old Dutch girl.
“Sarah” thought she was just having a laugh when she tweeted “@AmericanAir hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”
American Airlines replied that these threats are taken very seriously and her information was already turned over to the proper authorities. Soon after, “Sarah” went into a Twitter meltdown trying to get American Airlines to reconsider with Tweets like “I was kidding pls don’t I’m just a girl pls”, accusing her friend of making the Tweet from her account, and then this gem:
“I always wanted to be famous, but I meant like Demi Lovato famous, not Osama bin laden famous.”