Anyone with a Twitter account knows that it's easy to say things without first putting them through that all-important filter: Will people care? Am I doing something illegal? Will this make my life more difficult? We all know the story of Paul Chambers, the man arrested and eventually charged after joking about blowing up a UK airport on Twitter. Though the Paul Chambers' ruling was widely considered unfair, he's not the only person to get in trouble for tongue in cheek comments made on Twitter. Chambers was this week joined by bar manager Leigh Van Bryan and friend Emily Bunting, who were both recently refused entry to the United States after comments they had made on Twitter caught the attention of the Department of Homeland Security.
According to the Sun newspaper, Leigh tweeted at a friend, "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?" He later tweeted a reference to Family Guy: "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p*ssing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!"
DHS saw his messages and detained him and his friend upon their arrival at LAX. They were held and questioned for five hours before being handcuffed and transferred to prison cells guarded by armed officials.
Leigh says he tried to explain that 'destroy' is slang for partying hard in Britain but the DHS officials held the two on suspicion of planning to "commit crimes." The story goes that they thought Leigh's friend Emily was there to act as a look-out while Leigh raided the crypt of Marilyn Monroe. They even checked their luggage for shovels. The two were sent home on a plane the next morning, but Leigh was also issued with papers detailing the reason he was refused entry to the U.S.
"He had posted on his Tweeter [sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe. … Also on his tweeter [sic] account Mr. Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America."
Think before you Tweet, guys.
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Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.