140 characters can be all you need to end up behind bars.
Over the years, more than a dozen people – mostly teenagers – have been arrested for tweeting. Most of the arrest-worthy tweets were violent, mentioning mass shootings, assassinations, bomb threats, and more.
Sometimes the intent behind the violent messages is pure. They were either sent sarcastically, or they were phrases taken out of context.
The following examples serves as reminders that everything you write on social media is public. Be careful what you say, because you’re always being watched.
In September 2012, one day before the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, 21-year-old Donte Jamar Sims felt need to tweet something alarming:
'Ima hit president Obama with that Lee Harvey Oswald swagg,' he wrote, referencing John F. Kennedy's killer.
'Well Ima Assassinate president Obama this evening !...Gotta get this monkey off my chest while he's in town -_-'
'The Secret Service is gonna be defenseless once I aim the Assualt Rifle at Barack's Forehead ... F* the #DNC !'
A 16-year-old in Australia was on his way to a Pink concert, and he was a little too excited to see the artist perform her song, 'Timebomb.'
He tweeted something that sounded bad out of context:
'@Pink I'm ready with my Bomb. Time to blow up #RodLaverArena. B----.'
The teen says he was nabbed by officials at the concert who recognised his photo from his Twitter avatar, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. His father said the arena urged police to arrest his son and he had to drive three hours to get him.
Later, the teen clarified his tweet and his harmless intention: ''It was meant to be about drop the effects, the music, everything - just drop it all.''
Wanda Podgurski was on the run for what KMBC News calls 'massive insurance fraud' and wrote taunting tweets to authorities. 'Catch me if you can,' she wrote on June 5.
And catch her, they did. After travelling from Seattle to Boston to Las Vegas to Mexico over the course of four months, she was finally arrested thanks to the tweet, which tipped off authorities to her whereabouts.
A teenager in South Florida was arrested for tweeting about a school shooting shortly after the Sandy Hook incident.
The student, which attended Miami Lakes Educational centre, threatened to 'shoot up this school this Friday.'
CBS Miami says the teen was charged with making threats to cause bodily injury. When asked for an explanation the teen replied, 'It wasn't a threat to you guys. It was a statement in general, multiple statements that I made. I just want people to understand it's a serious thing and it shouldn't be made fun of and it shouldn't be taken lightly.'
Last year during the London summer Olympics, a 17-year-old with the handle @Rileyy_69 was arrested for tweeting about shooting a diver, Tom Daley, USA Today reports.
The teen was angry that the diver didn't place and when other Twitter users came to the athlete's defence he replied, 'I hold a gun licence for shooting birds and I'm gonna shoot yours as well.''
@Rileyy_69 was brought into the police station in London to discuss the intent behind his tweets, which the UK Olympics team was monitoring closely.
After a British soldier was murdered, a 22 and 23-year-old took to Twitter and tweeted offensive comments about it, The Independent reports.
Both were arrested under England's 'Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred,' The Independent says.
'These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol,' authorities told the paper. Both men were released on bail.
Elliot Madison, 41, was arrested in Pittsburgh after tweeting about police's whereabouts during a protest in 2009.
Reuters reported then: 'The criminal complaint against Madison said he broke the law by using Twitter to direct unlawful protesters and other people involved in criminal acts to avoid arrest and to inform them of police movements and actions.'
He was later released on bail.
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