Twitter’s serial murder admits his fictional identity

November 20, 2009 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

On November 16, TechCrunch Europe wrote about a user from Brighton, U.K., dinner_guest, that was tweeting very dark and morbid thoughts.  As of Novermber 17th, dinner_guest had only three followers.  Today?  292 followers.  Quite a jump!

Many news agencies and bloggers began following the co-called murder, and today the reported that dinner_guest updated his Twitter profile, changing his bio to “A fictional character born out of an artist’s mind. A meme experiment & analysis.”  Well, that’s a relief. The user turned out to be fictional: an artist’s imagination at work… at least we hope.

The incident brings up an important point though, what if this serial killer were real? What would Twitter management forces do?  One of the most debated concepts of social media is the censoring of news and the idea that amateur journalists are distributing news just as much as professional agencies.  So how does this information get policed?

For a little comic relief check out this video from Landline Tv about fictionalized Twitter Cops:

When I first thought about the concept, I wasn’t thinking about the literal term “policing,” I was thinking about what Twitter management would do in this scenario.  But then I came across an example of an arrest by police forces, some of you may have heard of in October, when an NYC activist Elliot Madison was arrested for “Criminal use of a communication facility”  (that facility being Twitter).

Here’s a video from Democracy Now War and Peace Report about the arrest.  It’s a long one, but the first few minutes summarize the charges and is then followed by an interview with Madison and his attorney.  

There really isn’t much monitoring of tweets right now, and that may or may not change (not without much debate).  But as seen in Madison’s case, police can apparently make arrests based on the use of social platforms such as Twitter: so be careful what you tweet.

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