A UK man was arrested on terrorism charges after making a joke on Twitter.
Travel chaos caused by recent heavy snow in the UK led him to quip in a tweet “Robin Hood airport is closed, you’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”.
A week later, reports The Independent, he was “arrested under the Terrorism Act and questioned for almost seven hours by detectives who interpreted his post as a security threat”.
Although he was released on bail, Paul Chambers was then suspended from his job pending an investigation.
This tells us two things: 1. The security services are taking Twitter seriously, 2. They have no sense of humour. The authorities have a duty to take threats against national security seriously but really, they should be able to tell the difference between a joke comment and an actual threat.
Although the original tweet is no longer showing up in Twitter Search (it only goes back a week or so), at the time of writing a couple of jokers have tweeted the same comment today. I wonder if they’ll get arrested too.
Monitoring Twitter for possible terrorists is a smart move. The security services just need to go about it the right way. Terrorist may express certain views that make them a candidate for investigation but they’re unlikely to come right out and publicly announce their plans.
On the other hand, if genuine terrorists might have started sending bomb threats via Twitter surely they’d check that their target was following their tweets first? Otherwise, what’s the point?
Investigations into Paul Chambers’ case continue.
[Image credit: Séfan]