- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
Caught the headlines recently about Twitter’s new system for blocking tweets on a per-county basis and South Korea’s indictment of an activist for reposting messages from the North Korean government’s Twitter account? It makes us wonder: Just what are the red lines in the United States for using the microblogging service? After all, we know that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, and Air Force are all already monitoring Twitter or seeking to develop technology to do so. While the legal terrain here is murky, here are five behaviors you might want to avoid:
- Threatening violence: Earlier this week, DHS agents detained Irish traveler Leigh Van Bryan and a friend at Los Angeles International Airport and sent them back to Europe after Bryan tweeted that he was going to "destroy America" and dig up Marilyn Monroe during his trip — references, he later told officials, to partying and the comedy show Family Guy, respectively (the incident conjured up memories of other jokes gone awry, such as when the Onion enraged the U.S. Capitol Police by tweeting, "BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building"). In 2009, FBI agents arrested an Oklahoma City man named Daniel Knight Hayden for threatening on Twitter to kill police officers during a Tea Party tax protest. Hayden was sentenced to eight months in prison.
- Coordinating unlawful behavior: Pittsburgh police arrested a New Yorker named Elliot Madison for using Twitter to alert anti-capitalist protesters about police movements during a 2009 G-20 summit. The criminal complaint claimed that Madison had helped demonstrators engaged in unlawful behavior avoid arrest, though the charges were later dropped.
- Pranking police: This past summer, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department opened a criminal investigation after the rapper The Game urged his 580,000 followers to call a number — the department’s Compton station, to be precise — if they wanted an internship with him. The hundreds of calls that followed "overwhelmed the emergency phone system and delayed emergency service," according to the Los Angeles Times (the department ultimately decided not to pursue charges). Twitters accounts impersonating police departments in Virginia and Texas have also been shut down.
- Cyberbullying: Last week, police in northwest Arkansas arrested three girls and one boy who were allegedly sending vulgar and derogatory messages from Twitter accounts.
- Not tweeting: The manager for teen pop star Justin Bieber and an Island Def Jam Records executive were arrested a couple of years ago for not immediately cancelling an appearance by Bieber at a Long Island mall over Twitter, as police requested afters fans grew unruly. Prosecutors charged the manager, "Scooter" Braun, with reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance but later dropped the charges in exchange for Bieber recording a public service announcement on cyberbullying.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |