BBCtrending: Girl learns lesson about Twitter threats

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By BBC Trending What’s popular and why

There are some things you just don’t do. Making bomb threats in an airport is one. Terrorism messages directed at airlines on Twitter is another.

That’s the lesson a 14-year-old Dutch girl apparently has learned after she sent the following to the official American Airlines Twitter account on Sunday morning: “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.”

The tweet, from “Sarah” under the handle @QueenDemetriax_, started a social media storm and led to the girl’s arrest by Rotterdam police on Monday.

After receiving the original tweet, the American Airlines account replied: “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”

What happened next was a string of the kind of posts you might expect a 14-year-old girl to make, for example:

“Omfg I was kidding.”

“I’m so sorry I’m scared now.”

“I was joking and it was my friend not me, take her IP address not mine.”

“My parents are gonna kill me if I tell them this omg pls.”

“My account got hacked okay I didn’t tweet anything”

“I need a lawyer. Any lawyers on here?”

Her slew of responses caught the attention of the Twitter universe, as users revelled in, or offered sympathy for, the girl’s plight. “Sarah” appeared to enjoy the attention for a while, boasting that she had acquired tens of thousands of followers. “I feel famous omg,” she wrote. She even offered to auction her now famous Twitter handle, starting the bidding at $500.

By Monday, Twitter had suspended Sarah’s account and American Airlines took down its reply. Business Insider reported that the Rotterdam police had arrested the girl – as part of its own investigation and not at the prompting of American Airlines or the FBI. The Rotterdam police posted the news on Twitter, naturally.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher of BBC’s Echo Chambers blog.

 

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