British Judge Upholds Fine For Twitter Threat To Bomb Airport


A British judge has upheld a fine of about $4,800 for Paul Chambers, who threatened on a Twitter post to “[blow] the airport sky high!!” after his flight to visit a woman was cancelled because of bad weather. The New York Times says the case has become “a cause célèbre for Twitter users and free-speech advocates in Britain and beyond.”

Supporters of Chambers posted supposed threats to blow up random things, including a town, another airport, and the White House. “I think I'll blow up Parliament,” one person wrote. “Oh, wait, that was a JOKE.” That none of these people appear yet to have been arrested for doing the exact same thing that Chambers did shows how hard it has become for law enforcement officials to know how to respond to the anarchic culture of social media sites, especially Twitter, with its rapid-fire, off-the-cuff, often satirical exchanges. “Whenever you get a new media coming in, the law is always slow to adjust,” said Rupert Grey, a media lawyer in London. “In some respects, the reaction of the tweeters is irresponsible, but the authorities have to understand that this is the world we live in and people are going to say these things.”

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