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"Twitter Users Beware: Homeland Security Isn’t Laughing."
January 30, 2012 2:38 PM   Subscribe

"Planning to make a joke on Twitter about bombing something? You might want to reconsider: According to a report from Britain, two tourists were detained and denied entry into the U.S. recently after they joked about destroying America and digging up Marilyn Monroe. That the Homeland Security Dept. and other authorities—including the FBI—are monitoring such social media as Twitter and Facebook isn’t surprising. That these authorities are willing to detain people based on what is clearly a harmless joke, however, raises questions about what the impact of all that monitoring will be."*
"The Homeland Security Dept. said during a security review earlier this year that it’s been monitoring various social networks and a list of blogs and other sources (including WikiLeaks) for information about potential security hazards and what it referred to as “situational awareness.” The FBI also revealed recently that it’s trying to develop a service that can monitor social media sources and automatically create alerts based on the information it finds there."*
posted by ericb (99 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like the not-so-subtle racism of mentioning that it's specifically Mexican drug dealers that he was forced to share a cell with.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:42 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


"A call [from the New York Times] to Donald Triner, acting director of the agency office overseeing an initiative on 'Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness,' was directed to the press office.

The Department of Homeland Security provided the following statement, from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on Monday afternoon:
'Based on information provided by the LAX Port Authority Infoline – a suspicious activity tipline – CBP conducted a secondary interview of two subjects presenting for entry into the United States. Information gathered during this interview revealed that both individuals were inadmissible to the United States and were returned to their country of residence.

CBP strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States. CBP denies entry to thousands of individuals each year on grounds of inadmissibility, some of which include: improper travel documents, prohibited activities or intent, traveling under the Visa Waiver Program without qualifying for participation in that program, smuggling of contraband or prohibited goods, criminal activity or history, immigration violations such as prior overstay, attempting to gain entry with fraudulent documents or posing as an imposter, and national security concerns, among others.

We recognize that there is an important balance to strike between securing our borders while facilitating the high volume of legitimate trade and travel that crosses our borders every day, and we strive to achieve that balance and show the world that the United States is a welcoming nation.'"
posted by ericb at 2:42 PM on January 30, 2012


Thanks, Big Brother!
posted by LordSludge at 2:43 PM on January 30, 2012


I guess i'm not going to be able to visit Australia after all the shit I've said I want to do to Rupert Murdoch.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:43 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


..."posing as an imposter"?
posted by likeso at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Another day, another rehearsal at the security theater.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


To be fair the US does need fewer hipster Brits. This was most likely just a pretext.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can someone remind me? I have completely forgotten the original security rationale behind taking obvious jokes with complete seriousness. I know it's been around ever since metal detectors came into airports, but please -- someone explain to me why exactly it is a better idea than otherwise.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:46 PM on January 30, 2012


This sort of behavior is probably legal, but if homeland security is going to to monitor social networks as ineptly as they do everything else, then maybe they just shouldn't.
posted by JackarypQQ at 2:49 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have completely forgotten the original security rationale behind taking obvious jokes with complete seriousness.

Simple: to make sure that you, the Average Citizen, are aware that You Are Being Watched.
posted by mie at 2:49 PM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


Or maybe it is sort of based on the premise that these jokes are not even a little bit funny.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:50 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Briton Paul Chambers posted "Crap! 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!" to his Twitter account and got fined £3000. BBC coverage.
posted by alasdair at 2:51 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think they just wanted to let people know that puckered lips in photos are no longer acceptable.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the not-so-subtle racism of mentioning that it's specifically Mexican drug dealers that he was forced to share a cell with.

I think there are two ways of interpreting it:
  1. A drug dealer who is a Mexican person, racially. In this case I would agree, the remark seems racist.
  2. A drug dealer from the country of Mexico (not born in mexico, or of Mexican race, but actually just came from that country). Considering the current state of affairs of the drug trade in Mexico, and the apparent disregard for human life, once might be justified in being quite wary.
Of course, a naive (or possibly racist) person may assume that (1) implies (2).
posted by Bovine Love at 2:52 PM on January 30, 2012


First they came for the jackasses, and I did not speak out, because I am not a fan of jackasses.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:52 PM on January 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'd also like to point out it was note a joke, but a turn of a phrase. They also smoke fags over there. That doesn't mean a tweet about smoking a fag is a joke about killing a homosexual.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:53 PM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


s/note/not/
posted by Bovine Love at 2:54 PM on January 30, 2012


Related:
"The Air Force has expressed similar goals [of "social media analysis"].

The top Air Force scientist, Dr. Mark Maybury, told Foreign Policy’s Danger Room blog earlier this month that he would like to 'see into the hearts and minds of people' with a kind of 'social radar' that could provide advanced warning of enemy movements and other tactical intelligence. That involves reading people’s public expressions online."
posted by ericb at 2:55 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


America, where you get detained for joking about stuff like this, but it's perfectly acceptable to be serious about nuking other countries. Also, torture of others is fine, just don't point it out, and don't do it to us.
posted by usagizero at 2:55 PM on January 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


This is just one of the many reasons why I like using a pseudonymous handle to communicate online. It would be possible for a determined person to figure out my real name from my net handle, but some flunky at Homeland Security won't be able to lazily flag me as some sort of terrorist for making an offhand remark online.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:55 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Briton Paul Chambers posted "Crap! 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!" to his Twitter account and got fined £3000.

Previous MeFi FPP: Twitter Joke Trial.
posted by ericb at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2012


So they want to focus on figuring out how people might attack the US via observing social media.

Good thing the Tora Bora mountains have all those new cell phone and wireless towers.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:58 PM on January 30, 2012


There are two problems with the framing of these articles.
  1. They describe the tweets as "jokes." They're not jokes. they're flat statements that the people involved plan to... wait for it... attend parties in the United States.
  2. They claim that DHS is "monitoring" twitter. They're not monitoring twitter. Twitter is too big to monitor. Instead they're using scripts that search for words like "destroy" and "America" in proximity to each other, and then pretending like this gets them meaningful information.
Oh, and one more item: I have to imagine that the reaction to these articles by people who are not residents of the United States is much more likely to be "well, not taking a vacation there anytime soon" than it is to be "hurf durf British hipsters."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:58 PM on January 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


I guess we're going to have to stop making "nuke it from orbit" jokes. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by rtha at 3:00 PM on January 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


Yeah it is ludicrous, but If they had done something we would all be wondering why nobody checked public statements they had made. What government official is going to go out on a limb here and be the one to make the call to let them in, no government official that is who.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:02 PM on January 30, 2012


This guy is clearly drug-dealerist.
posted by scrowdid at 3:05 PM on January 30, 2012


We at the agency do not have a sense of humor that we are aware of.

I have to imagine that the reaction to these articles by people who are not residents of the United States is much more likely to be "well, not taking a vacation there anytime soon" than it is to be "hurf durf British hipsters."

Getting detained at the border for a clearly non-serious statement with nothing even approaching mens rea? That's more like "you've got some pretty landscapes out west but your law enforcement represents an unacceptable risk to law-abiding citizens and needs to be put under adult supervision."

No, Agent, not talking about you, sir. Don't mind me. Just keep guarding that corpse.
posted by Vetinari at 3:06 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


To be fair to the United States, and as much as the conduct of employees in the DHS invites and deserves criticism and scrutiny, the UK doesn't exactly have a stellar record on freedom of expression relative to the US, whether it's the Internet or any other media. In any case, this seems somewhat like standard xenophobic faire from a UK tabloid, given that the US is already working with the UK to eavesdrop on communication by each other's nationals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on January 30, 2012


Or maybe it is sort of based on the premise that these jokes are not even a little bit funny.

I can't WAIT for DHS to get into the copyright/media business.

Then they'll shutdown sit-coms.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:07 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bit depressing too that no one at LAX knew that Marilyn Monroe is safely interred in a stone crypt in Westwood and that no digging might take place. Also why would a grave-robber need to bring spades aboard an international flight? As if none exist at the destination.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 3:11 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The actions taken by these DHS agents has actively harmed America. In a sane world, DHS policies would be revised immediately, and the agents involved in harassing these tourists would be fired, also immediately. We're not living in a sane world, though...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:12 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


As with the Robion Hood case every single person involved, up and down the whatever chain of command, from the person who came up with this policy to the person who umbly and mechanically enforced it, should be fired for time wasting and for being too dumb to do anything useful in the event of any real threat.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Twitter is too big to monitor.

Experiment for ya.

Post a web page somewhere. Simple html file. Obscure URL. Link to it from nowhere else.

Then post a link to it on Twitter.

Then watch the log files and see what hits it.

Let me know what you find out.
posted by mie at 3:14 PM on January 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


Is there any basis for the "destroy is slang for party" justification other than the victims' own explanation?

I'm British, but I've been away for a while and I'm -- goddamn -- a generation older than them. Urban Dictionary doesn't list any such synonyms (but tends to be more US-centric anyway.)

My vote goes to "joke that fell flat" rather than "misunderstood slang".

Bruce Schneier: British Tourists Arrested in the U.S. for Tweeting
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:17 PM on January 30, 2012


I'd hit it!
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:18 PM on January 30, 2012


You could look up destroy on Urban Dictionary but I really don't think that's going to help anyone's case.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess i'm not going to be able to visit Australia after all the shit I've said I want to do to Rupert Murdoch.


You'd be fine visiting Australia. It would be getting back into the US that might (theoretically) be more difficult. Murdoch forfeited his Australian citizenship in 1985, when he became a naturalized American citizen.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:25 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hope they will also prevent Cascada from entering the US for attempting to use biological weapons at a dance club.
posted by demiurge at 3:26 PM on January 30, 2012


Twitter is too big to monitor.

hahahahaha ... oh wow, thanks for the afternoon giggle...

Seeing as I worked on similar systems that would trawl through content sources (usenet, P2P networks, etc.) for searching for specific keywords, this is no big deal at all. (and I am no "rocket scientist" by any means)

If Twitter can offer self-censorship to governments who ask - they can also offer back-door feeds to their data to law enforcement...
posted by jkaczor at 3:29 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Twitter may, however, be too big to monitor in anything other than a purely mechanical and utterly useless manner.
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I live in fear of the Google bombs as well. What if one lands on a school?
posted by davemee at 3:34 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Twitter may, however, be too big to monitor in anything other than a purely mechanical and utterly useless manner.

Naw. You start with specific hash-tag keyword searches - as well as looking for "strangeness" (obfuscated/encrypted text) and then monitor those specific users.

As well - if the specific users are already targets of an investigation, there is most likely a profile (email aliases, names used, etc.) which then specific twitter accounts/hashtags get added too - monitor goes from "ocean-wide" to puddle-specific...
posted by jkaczor at 3:34 PM on January 30, 2012


Twitter may, however, be too big to monitor in anything other than a purely mechanical and utterly useless manner.

That's probably closer to it. Worse yet, this story is the equivalent of car workers being replaced by robots, but with homeland security analysts. A whole bank of people hitting f5 on site:http://www.twitter.com destroy America "Great Satan" have probably been put onto welfare queues by the software that came up with this red flag.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:35 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


We don't take kindly to twitter-lovers!
posted by banshee at 3:35 PM on January 30, 2012


I, Marilyn Monroe, want to destroy Mexican fruit bats in America.
posted by swift at 3:36 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry - my bad. site:http://www.tweeter.com.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:41 PM on January 30, 2012


Comparing America to Britain over their treating trivial Twittering as serious threats distracts from the obvious. EVERYBODY is doing it. No wonder Twitter has thrown in the towel trying to protect its users from local censorship. "Arab Spring" was a one-time aberration that The Powers That Be everywhere will never allow to repeat.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:44 PM on January 30, 2012


The War on Common Sense continues. The worst threat to the American tourist industry is the TSA. There are some places in the USA that I might like to visit some day, however the prospect of getting entangled in the stupidities of the American border Gestapo, with their thuggishness, arbitrary overreactions, unaccountability and apparent complete lack of supervision by sensible adults, is just too offputting.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:44 PM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


instead they're using scripts that search for words like "destroy" and "America" in proximity to each other, and then pretending like this gets them meaningful information.

The scariest thing about all this may not just be the idea that Big Brother is watching... it might be the mendacity implied by any official acceptance of the idea that this gets them meaningful information. Even as a cover story.
posted by weston at 3:45 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Plus they may have given the game away on whose grave the secret Self Destruct button for America is buried in.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I remember when it was only illegal to make a joke at the airline counter, immediately before boarding a flight.
posted by Malor at 3:48 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah it is ludicrous, but If they had done something we would all be wondering why nobody checked public statements they had made. What government official is going to go out on a limb here and be the one to make the call to let them in, no government official that is who.

Anybody with a brain after five minutes of talking to them. What an embarrassment. I hope the British embassy makes a stink over it.
posted by empath at 3:53 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


every single person involved, up and down the whatever chain of command, from the person who came up with this policy to the person who umbly and mechanically enforced it, should be fired

I would agree with you, but the Republican candidates seriously stink.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:56 PM on January 30, 2012


Fuck DHS. Let's go get bombed.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:59 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am going to murder every man, woman, and child with the borders of the USA (including Alaska and Hawaii). Tonight.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:02 PM on January 30, 2012


Is there any basis for the "destroy is slang for party" justification other than the victims' own explanation?

Ish. It more means "I'm the kinda twat who is going to get so drunk and act like a complete cunt that although the town will still be standing, I will have robbed it of any value as a civilized and reasonable place to live." Were I dictator of England, I would have refused these people reentry, but alas.
posted by Jehan at 4:02 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


literally rotfl imho hth #swag #swarg #swug #anime
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:06 PM on January 30, 2012


If Twitter can offer self-censorship to governments who ask

Interesting take on that here: Twitter’s censorship is a gray box of shame, but not for Twitter

Possibly a bigger issue than this stupidity, TBH.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on January 30, 2012


This is just one of the many reasons why I like using a pseudonymous handle to communicate online.... some flunky at Homeland Security won't be able to lazily flag me as some sort of terrorist for making an offhand remark online.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:55 PM on January 30


I agree, but with your handle I think there's a good chance you might be getting flagged for something else.
posted by Hoopo at 4:10 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah it is ludicrous, but If they had done something we would all be wondering why nobody checked public statements they had made. What government official is going to go out on a limb here and be the one to make the call to let them in, no government official that is who.
And you have just given carte blanche to any government to lock up anyone for making any statement, on any medium and in any context, at any time in history, that is deemed to be threatening.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 4:20 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


The more reactionary a society, the more signifiers are conflated with the signified. The ability of the reactionaries to recognize context as a modifier is equally diminished, and signifiers degrade into mere signs.

In the most extreme form the members of a mentally primitive culture live in a world completely inside thier own limited imaginations, reacting to what social signals impinge upon thier awareness as a planarian responds to the simple stimuli of hot and cold, light and dark.

This was the state common to our paleolithic ancestors, with whom we are geneically identical. Any group can slide back into this frame of consciousness unless self-refelction and critical thinking are taught to children as primary values, each and every generation. Negligence of this educational responsibility is apparent in athority figures first, as athority-seeking is one of the core traits of reactionary people. They tend to represent the floor of a culture's intellectual domain space.
posted by clarknova at 4:21 PM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Have you people forgotten the destruction that resulted when the Mooninites attacked Boston?
posted by Ragged Richard at 4:26 PM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


And you have just given carte blanche to any government to lock up anyone for making any statement, on any medium and in any context, at any time in history, that is deemed to be threatening.

Didn't you read my comment? I gave them carte blance to execute anyone.

Really, come on. I didn't say lock them up. We already have laws in place for this, they deny people enty for all kinds of shit. You really want some functionary deciding what is a joke or not? You really do need a blanket policy.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:35 PM on January 30, 2012


Here are some of the reasons you can be denied entry:

spies, saboteurs or terrorists
persons whose entry would endanger U.S. foreign policy
voluntary members of Communist or other totalitarian parties
Nazis

fortunately there is a form they can fill out so someone higher up the food chain can decide if they were joking or not.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:46 PM on January 30, 2012


So this didn't really go near any kind of legal system, just the TSA acting in their own little private hinterland, so in a way i think it's not as bad as the Robin Hood case - that went up in front of a judge - twice, since they appealed it, and still the guy ended up with a fine for no real reason, preserving the safety of nobody and making no-ones life better.
posted by Artw at 4:48 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You really want some functionary deciding what is a joke or not?

You know whose functionaries also didn't have a sense of humor?
posted by clarknova at 4:50 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We could have functionaries that just roll a dice and it would make as much sense.

Also there's always people who grant this shit their approval because someone in authority is doing it so it must have a point. Sigh... never ask how Nazi Germany happened, people letting tiny steps to fasicsm like this go unquestioned is how.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on January 30, 2012


So this didn't really go near any kind of legal system, just the TSA acting in their own little private hinterland, so in a way i think it's not as bad as the Robin Hood case - that went up in front of a judge - twice, since they appealed it, and still the guy ended up with a fine for no real reason, preserving the safety of nobody and making no-ones life better.

It was great when they asked the manager of DSA airport what steps they took in reaction to the "threat", and he just said, "none, we never took it seriously." Yet the guy was still fined. I laughed, I cried, I realized that we ought have expected nothing else.
posted by Jehan at 4:56 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well ok, if the TSA is operating holding cells full of drug dealers, we gotta take a look at that.

I think we have established laws and I'm not sure I want whoever is doing the interview to decide "oh yeah, obviously a joke" because they are white, or because they are cute, or because they are having a good day.All they have is a file in front of them. If we have procedures we should stick to them.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:59 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm not sure I want whoever is doing the interview to decide "oh yeah, obviously a joke" because they are white"

Huh? The reason to decide it's obviously a joke.... is because it's obviously a joke. On every level. By any measure. Beyond even the tiniest doubt.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:13 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh? The reason to decide it's obviously a joke

In this case, yes it was a joke.

I just want the laws evenly applied. I don't want the guy doing interviews making snap decisions based soley on the file that contains "said on twitter that he was coming to destroy America" and however he feels that day.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:22 PM on January 30, 2012


You can't destroy America. America will live forever deep in the hearts and arteries of all we peoples around the world who enjoy her abundance of good TV shows and Large Macs. Also Amazon for some very reasonably-priced dildos. Viva la America!
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2012


And you have just given carte blanche to any government to lock up anyone for making any statement...

Jesus fuck does he really have the power to do that? Oh shi
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You really want some functionary deciding what is a joke or not?

Yes, that's exactly what I want. Intelligent well trained people who have the ability to use their judgement, experience and critical thinking skills to determine real threats from random bullshit.

Adherence to blanket rules over critical thought is making us less safe, not more safe. And when you give people real power to do their jobs, they tend to actually do them, as opposed to the petty power-tripping that you get from mindless functionaries that are only allowed to blindly follow blanket rules.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:38 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's some guy in a basement cave in Washington whose computer told him there was a tweet, made using a real name, containing the words "destroy America", and that same real name is on a ticket to come to the US. Would you like to deny entry Yes/No/Cancel?

You have to wonder what was going through that guy's head. Maybe it was "Oh boy, a clear-cut case of someone saying something malicious and coming into the country -- that hasn't happened in 6 months!"

Maybe it was "I have to justify my job by occasionally doing something about all these stupid warnings that pop up all the time."

Maybe it was "Screw this stupid system, maybe I can make the news and get it shut down if I do something really idiotic."

Or maybe his finger slipped.

I guess we'll never know.
posted by miyabo at 5:43 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ok, all things being equal. Yeah I would want someone "judgement, experience and critical thinking skills to determine real threats from random bullshit. "

But we don't have those people do we. We have a thread about how terrible the TSA is every week, you aren't going to convice me they are experienced or have critical thinking skills now.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:50 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


First they came for the jackasses, and I did not speak out, because I am not a fan of jackasses.

Eh, I'm fine.

If they were going to come for me they would have done it by now.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:02 PM on January 30, 2012


But we don't have those people do we. We have a thread about how terrible the TSA is every week, you aren't going to convice me they are experienced or have critical thinking skills now.

Good poi...wait! You just used how terrible something is to justify it being terrible. Don't think you can play those clever games with me!

Stop trying to find a reason to complain about everything

I personally thought it was this statement that struck at the heart of everything I and Metafilter stand for.
posted by howfar at 6:08 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok ok, you guys turned me around. If we can go 6 months without a " TSA security theatre thread" I will agree with you that they are capable of distinguishing humor without simply giving every wite person a pass and deporting everyone vaguely brown.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:12 PM on January 30, 2012


We have a thread about how terrible the TSA is every week

Good thing this thread isn't about the TSA at all.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:15 PM on January 30, 2012


Yeah it is ludicrous, but If they had done something we would all be wondering why nobody checked public statements they had made. What government official is going to go out on a limb here and be the one to make the call to let them in, no government official that is who.

If I were a government official, I'd gladly stake my job on the assumption that no terrorist will ever say, "I'm gonna go destroy America" on Twitter right before flying to America and doing something violent. I'd sleep soundly, secure that a policy based on that assumption would never come back to bite me.
posted by straight at 6:34 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but that's what the terrorists want you to think.

As soon as that policy is in place, they'll know that to get into America without a hitch, they just have to tweet "@AlQaeda: off to destroy USA 2morrow as planned. Allah hu Akbar! PS want me to bring back 1doz Krispy Kreme?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:49 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that had twitter existed on September 10th, Atta and company would definitely have used it to tell everyone the plan ahead of time. /hamburger
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:00 PM on January 30, 2012


In 2012, the entire Web is an airport security zone.
posted by acb at 8:13 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is there any basis for the "destroy is slang for party" justification other than the victims' own explanation?

She's a Killer Queen
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Not much of a joke? I heard it knocked 'em dead in Hollywood.

Not only can you be denied entry for making flippant tweets, you can be denied entry for being the friend of someone who made flippant tweets:

“They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party,” she said. “I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh’s lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. I couldn’t believe it because it was a quote from Family Guy. It got even more ridiculous because the officials searched our suitcases and said they were looking for spades and shovels."
posted by rory at 3:08 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hadn't clicked through to page two of that article; the tweeter's friend added, "They did a full body search on me too." A full body search because of her friend's tweets. Just in case she had a spade or shovel down her sweater, perhaps.
posted by rory at 3:18 AM on January 31, 2012


Has anyone else noticed that the only original source for this story is The Sun? The Huff Post and Business Week and Schneier articles all link back to the Sun. It's also reported in the Daily Mail, but that article looks like it was copied without acknowledgement from the Sun.

Not sure we can take this one at face value till we see original reporting from a more reliable source.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:02 AM on January 31, 2012


The links I posted just above are from the Birmingham Mail, Infinite Jest, and contain an interview with the couple by a local reporter.
posted by rory at 5:05 AM on January 31, 2012


Sorry, as you were, they've just rehashed the Mail interview. Their focus on the Perry Barr angle fooled me. Everything seems to point back towards the Small World News Service.
posted by rory at 5:13 AM on January 31, 2012


Okay, this is hilarious. The target of Leigh van Bryan's "destroy America" tweet was the Twitter account MelissaxWalton, better known as one of the stars of Hollyoaks, a Channel 4 soap opera.

Melissa Walton is from Coventry, as apparently is "bar manager Leigh, from Coventry" (Daily Mail), and they're close in age (22 and 24), so it's conceivable that they know each other. But if so, it means that Bryan's terrorist co-conspirator is hidden in plain sight of 1.5 million Britons.
posted by rory at 5:30 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does this mean we are allowed have to arrest the cast of Hollyoaks?
posted by Jehan at 8:33 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It got even more ridiculous because the officials searched our suitcases and said they were looking for spades and shovels

If I were planing on digging up Marilyn Monroe in order to unleash the Hollywood zombie apocalypse and destroy America, I would pack my own shovels and spades too. Even British teenagers know American shovel and spade technology is years behind and thought to pack their own. You Yankees can have your rockets to the the moon and your nukes, I'll be here with my Commonwealth-engineered shovel tech, digging up an army of dead celebrities with an efficiency straight out of the most fantastical science fiction.
posted by Hoopo at 9:53 AM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only answer is for everyone to start using trigger words in every email, tweet, etc.
-Destroy America.-
posted by bongo_x at 10:16 AM on January 31, 2012


The only answer is for everyone to start using trigger words in every email, tweet, etc.
-Destroy America.-


Look at the kitty! So cuuuute! Furthermore, America delenda est.
posted by Jehan at 11:07 AM on January 31, 2012


Can't the couple sue or something? It's so absurd, I'm having a hard time believing it. It's so clearly silly banter between friends. Perhaps DHS was right to look for key words and raise flags, but as soon as they had the couple for questioning, it should have been immediately obvious what they were dealing with. AND they should have been allowed to continue their vacation.
posted by scelerat at 1:52 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Twitter can offer self-censorship to governments who ask

Interesting take on that here: Twitter’s censorship is a gray box of shame, but not for Twitter


Another: Why Twitter will regret its misguided flirtation with censorship.
posted by homunculus at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2012


Good thing this thread isn't about the TSA at all.

Exactly.

Can't the couple sue or something?

As I understand it, travelers (including U.S. citizens) are basically in somewhat of 'legal limbo' when at a border controlled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They can seek redress via the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP), if they dispute any action taken against them.
posted by ericb at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2012


It's all Van Bryan's fault. He's the real reason. That haircut is terror-able.
posted by Goofyy at 9:47 PM on January 31, 2012


Lawmaker Demands DHS Cease Monitoring of Blogs, Social Media
posted by homunculus at 6:45 PM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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