Yesterday we blogged about a teenager's arrest for a tweeting threats. This appears to be happening more and more often. Earlier this year this message appeared on a 14-year-old Dutch girl's Twitter feed: "@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." By the end of the day, the girl had been arrested by Dutch authorities on criminal suspicion of posting an alarming or false announcement.
American Airlines responded to the girl immediately, saying that they take such threats seriously and that the poster's IP address and other details were being forwarded to the FBI. The little girl quickly fired back a response, revealing that she was only a girl and the her post was a joke that her friend made. One of the girl's final responses to American Airlines was, "I'm so sorry I'm scared now."
The Dutch Girl Eventually Turned Herself In
During the hours that followed, Dutch authorities began an investigation to pinpoint the girl's location. Later that day, she turned herself into a local police station in Rotterdam and was arrested. As of last reports, authorities did not know if she would serve any jail time or not. American Airlines made several statements to the media regarding this highly sensitive incident. A representative of the company stated that the safety of its crew members and passengers is its utmost priority and it works closely with authorities regarding these types of events on a case-by-case basis.
The teen, going by the name Sarah had her account, @QueenDemetriax_, suspended from Twitter.
Where Do We Draw the Line on Internet Hoaxes?
This case brings up questions about the fine line between over-policing and the need to protect airline passengers from danger. If one examines the content of the girl's first message, though, it did not directly contain any kind of threat. It was the context that incited Americans' red flags. Also, if it was in fact her friend who posted the message as a joke, then that friend may ultimately be charged in this case. Finally, if this incident occurred in the United States, the girl would have many legal defenses at her disposal -- not just with regard to the mild content of her alleged threat. Considering her age, it is highly unlikely that she would suffer stiff punishment, if any at all.
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