At a time when the online world is abuzz with protests against the proposed censorship by Twitter, two British tourists faced the wrath of the American establishment for their tweet. Leigh Van Bryan and Emily Bunting had no idea that they would be detained at customs check and deported back to their home simply because of a tweet, which they allege, was misinterpreted.
“Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America”
Not only were they detained, but grilled by Department of Homeland Security like terrorists. In spite of telling the officials that ‘destroy’ was British slang for ‘party’, they were kept in detention on suspicion of “committing crimes” against America. Their bags were allegedly checked for shovels and spades because another tweet by Bryan read
“3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!”
Emily later spoke to journalists, “The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh’s tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do. They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party. I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh’s lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. I couldn’t believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show.”
The Department of Homeland Security acted in haste and did seriously lack a sense of humor. But when national security is at stake, they cannot be blamed either. We often treat social media as a platform where we can post whatever we like, sometimes bordering on obscenity. This incident points us towards Social Media Responsibility. Whatever we say, whatever we write is being monitored. We need to exercise caution lest we invite trouble.
What is your take on this incident?