After the arrest of a 14-year-old Dutch girl for making a prank terror threat to American Airlines on Twitter, a new trend has emerged with dozens of US teenagers follwing her lead.
On Monday the 14-year-old Dutch girl was arrested by the Rotterdam police for making a terrorist threat to American Airlines over the weekend. American Airlines responded quickly telling the girl they had passed on her details to the FBI.
Following a brief period of detention, the girl, identified only as Sarah on her Twitter profile, was released. The story was shared widely on social media with the @QueenDemetriax_ account swelling with 30,000 new followers. The account was subsequently suspended
The swift and serious response by both the authorities and the airline to the 'joke' threat on Twitter has not however prevented dozens of teenagers across the US from mimicking these actions.
Dozens of accounts have been sending similar threats as @QueenDemetriax_ to American Airlines and others such as SouthWest Airlines, Delta and US Airways.
While some of the messages are just copying the original message, some seem to be in support of the 14-year-old girl who was arrested, with one tweeter saying:
"Release her or I'll bomb your HQ. you gonna arrest me now?"
The account belonging to the person who sent this message (@nonfreak) has been suspended, along with the accounts of dozens of other people who have sent similar messages. The offending tweets have also been removed from the accounts of those not suspended for the most part.
Twitter Joke Trial
This is not the first time messages posted on Twitter have had repercussions in the real world. In January 2010, Paul Chambers sent the following message on Twitter about an airport in Nottingham being closed due to the bad weather:
"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!!"
The message resulted in what became known as the Twitter Joke Trial and resulted in Chambers being convicted of using Twitter to send a "public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003".
The convicted was subsequently quashed after two unsuccessful appeals, with comedians Stephen Fry and Al Murray publicly supporting Chambers in court.
It is unclear if the authorities in the US are going to investigate every instance of threatening messages sent in recent days to airlines, but considering just how swiftly they acted in response to the original message, and how seriously they take any terror threat - joke or otherwise - it is likely most of this who posted messages in recent days will be worried about getting a knock on their door.