The Police Raided My Friend’s House Over a Parody Twitter Account
Jon Daniel woke up on Thursday morning to a news crew in his living room, which was a welcome change from the company he had on Tuesday night, when the Peoria, Illinois, police came crashing through the door. The officers tore the 28-year-old’s home apart, seizing electronics and taking several of his roommates in for questioning; one woman who lived there spent three hours in an interrogation room. All for a parody Twitter account.
Yes, the cops raided Daniel’s home because they wanted to find out who was behind @peoriamayor, an account that had been shut down weeks ago by Twitter. When it was active, Daniel used it to portray Jim Ardis, the mayor of Peoria, as a weed-smoking, stripper-loving, Midwestern answer to Rob Ford. The account never had more than 50 followers, and Twitter had killed it because it wasn’t clearly marked as a parody. It was a joke, a lark—but it brought the police to Daniel’s door. The cops even took Daniel and one of his housemates in for in-depth questioning—they showed up at their jobs, cuffed them, and confiscated their phones—because of a bunch of Twitter jokes.
Now Daniel’s panicking.
“I’m going to fucking jail,” he told me yesterday when he was on a break from his job as a line cook. “They’re going to haul me away for this shit.”
Should Teens Be Arrested for the Stupid Things They Say on Social Media?
On Sunday morning, a Dutch teenager named Sarah made one of the most disastrous attempts to be funny on Twitter in history. The 14-year-old girl, whose now-suspended handle was @QueenDemetriax_, decided it would be a good idea to tweet “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 [sic]” at the official account of American Airlines, which responded with an ominous “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”
Naturally, she freaked like the kid in trouble she was, tweeting panicked messages to @AmericanAir that she was “kidding,” “joking,” “scared,” “not from Afghanistan,” and “just a girl” who “never did anything wrong” in her life. She briefly paused to take stock of her fame (“Over 2,000 RTs what”) before she was identified by Dutch police, turned herself infor making a false report, and was brought to a court hearing before being released.
It’s not clear that she’ll face criminal charges, but in the wake of her jokey “threat” came a storm of copycats tweeting warnings to American Airlines (and Southwest Airlines, for whatever reason); it was sort of like that scene in Spartacus except much, much stupider. Articles about this hot new teen trend generally took pains to castigate young twitterers like@twerkcunt for their poor choice of prank. Writing for the Washington Post’s style blog, Caitlin Dewey made sure everyone knew that this kind of trolling was NOT COOL, KIDS:
We hardly need reiterate the problems with this kind of thing: Airlines need to take threats seriously, no matter how silly they seem, which means a lot of airline employees (and presumably, police and security and FBI) are spending a lot of time tracking down nuisance threats, as well.
Leaving aside, for a minute, the vast waste of taxpayer money and manpower that represents, there’s another more ground-level problem here: This trolling completely destroys whatever incentives airlines have to engage with their customers on Twitter.
I would argue that if federal agents spent any time whatsoever tracking down Twitter user @comedybatman or the kids making “I think you guys are THE BOMB”–related puns, the resulting waste of taxpayer money is on them, not the trolling teens. But more importantly, the knee-jerk reaction here—tut-tutting at some kids for having some fun making incredibly distasteful jokes—distracts from the actual problem of teens getting arrested, or suspended or expelled from school, for things they’ve posted to social media.
My Top Secret Meeting with One of Silk Road’s Biggest Drug Lords
Dread Pirate Roberts captained a ship that many thought was unsinkable. But when the FBI seized the original Silk Road on October 1, 2013 ,and arrested the alleged kingpin—29-year-old Ross Ulbricht—the online drugs empire began to capsize. Its hundreds of thousands of customers scattered across the Deep Web, and up to seven known Silk Road vendors were identified and arrested.
As the chaos unravelled into the mainstream and stories of Dread Pirate Roberts’ (DPR) alleged murder-for-hire antics made headlines, one prominent Silk Road drugs syndicate sat in their European safe-house with a ton of opium and a decision to make—would they cut their losses and disappear into the ether while they were still ahead, or keep their lucrative online drugs network running in the midst of all this extra attention?
The displaced drugs syndicate, known on the Deep Web as the Scurvy Crew (TSC), decided to go back to work. For them, back to work meant laundering Bitcoins, vacuum packing drug parcels, and jumping the Moroccan border with bags stuffed full of uncut drugs. Silk Road may have died a sudden death at the hands of the authorities, but as one of the highest rated vendors before the FBI shut-down, the Scurvy Crew saw its demise as an opportunity to diversify.
After six months of negotiation, via encrypted email and several phone calls from throwaway SIM cards, the boss of the Scurvy Crew agreed to meet me. He told me he would explain to me the inner workings of his Deep Web drugs venture, from its humble beginnings to the near million-dollar profits it now apparently generates. Known to me only by the pseudonym “Ace,” the boss claimed to represent a new breed of drug dealer.
“I don’t do this just for the money,” he wrote to me via email. “I like to provide a premium service.”
Advice for the Twitter Professional at US Airways Who Tweeted Hardcore Porn
Late last night, someone was complaining to US Airways about a bad experience she had had with that airline. This is an entirely normal thing to do—as much as 75 percent of Twitter’s content is users bitching about airlines being awful and the airlines’ corporate Twitter accounts apologizing and asking the dissatisfied customers to fill out online complaint forms. The person running the @USAirways account followed the script when responding this afternoon, apologizing profusely and politely. Then @USAirways tweeted an extraordinarily graphic picture of a naked woman holding her legs up and apart to reveal a model airplane jammed rather immodestly into her vagina. That was not a normal thing to do. Here’s how the exchange went:
THEN THERE WAS A FUCKING PHOTO OF A LADY WITH A PLANE IN HER JUNK. (Link here, but it’s NSFW because it’s the kind of weird, vaguely funny porn that no one even masturbates to.)
Amazingly, that photo stayed online FOR A FUCKING HOUR while everyone on Twitter was like “lol” and “wtf” and “smh” and “haha now we know where Flight 370 is right? oh shit too soon my bad.” Then US Airways was like, “We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating,” as if there were a black box recording of a twentysomething hitting Command-V in the wrong text box, or as if there were some kind of vast conspiracy to make everyone look at a picture of some lady having carnal relations with a toy.
To see what kind of #SocialMedia and #Branding lessons could be drawn from this incident, I talked to Hanson O’Haver, the VICE Social Editor—a.k.a. the guy who runs the @VICE Twitter account.
VICE: What did the person running the US Airways do wrong? Or did they do anything wrong?
Hanson O’Haver: Well, I did a little digging and it looks like the image they posted actually came from this tweet:
If you delete a tweet where you uploaded a photo, the link would be dead, so you can tell it originates from someone else’s account, not @USAirways.
What probably happened is that they were tweeted that link, copy/pasted it to send around for laughs or for some HR report, and then went to reply to the other person’s comment. They just pasted in the link and didn’t realize that the link they had meant to use hadn’t copied.
OK, and from a social media point of view, if you’re running a corporate Twitter account, do you generally want to tweet images of hard-core, graphic pornography? Or is that more of a social media “don’t”?
I mean, yeah, that’s generally looked down upon by clients. But in terms of increasing engagement, it’s certainly effective. Put it this way: US Airways wasn’t trending nationwide before they sent an angry customer a photo of a toy plane inside a vagina.
Weev, the hacker who spent a year in jail for a crime that didn’t exist, in a place that wasn’t there.
Why are so many girls wearing cat makeup on Tinder? We explored the phenomenon.
Which Twin Peaks Character Are You? – Taken by Westboro member Steve Drain.
Q. Pick a movie
A. Fargo (“I like the Coen Brothers a lot. Their films tend to be morality plays.”)
Q. What term best describes you?
A. Loyal (“I hope to be loyal in my service to God.”)
Q. Pick a song
A. “Money” by Pink Floyd (“I think they’re a very underrated band.”)
Q. What’s your ideal Friday night?
A. Hanging with your significant other (“I love my wife, she’s the wife of my youth. And the Lord tells us to rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”)
Q. Pick a food
A. Maraschino cherries (“I put maraschino cherries in soda. I think it spices it up.”)
Q. Describe your personal style
A. No. (“I don’t think any of the other stuff really describes me very well.”)
Q. Pick a TV show
A. Breaking Bad (“It’s a very interesting story. It’s complex. I don’t like stories where you already know what’s going to happen. Though I’ve gotta tell you, with all of his supposed love for his wife and son, rather than deciding to be a meth kingpin, he could’ve just trusted that the Lord would take care of his son and wife.”)
"Who is that? I guess he’s one of the prime suspects for killing the girl. He looks like he’s a good-looking, clean-cut kid. Which means he doesn’t at all resemble me."
See more Buzzfeed quizzes taken by Westboro Baptist Church members
In Defense of the Basic Bitch
A culture war is raging in America, but not the one you see being waged on Fox News and MSNBC in prime time. That neverending conflict has an unintended casualty, a victim that neither side truly wants to champion. This much-maligned minority group needs our respect and our affection. Of course, I am talking about the infamous “Basic Bitch.”
The Basic Bitch is denigrated in music videos and hip-hop lyrics. They’re defamed on Twitter merely for requesting a simple kindness:
Urban Dictionary, the final arbiter of cultural relevancy, defines the Basic Bitch in a variety of ways. The most accurate explanation is as follows:
- Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.
- Lacking intelligence and unable to socialize on even an elementary level.
- Annoyingly frustrating because of the above.
What specifically makes one Basic? Not understanding irony or sarcasm, constantly needing to be cloying and sincere, enjoying xoJane articles, reading books about Feng Shui, checking horoscopes, French tip fingernails, gladiator sandals, John Mayer, Gleereruns, and Michael Buble are all pretty Basic.
Only recently has being Basic become such a social faux pas that videos have to be made to shame them out of existence. It wasn’t always a crime to like fast food and How I Met Your Mother. It’s become a form of gag reflex to immediately trash those brave enough to be completely and hopelessly square, but American culture is littered with Basics. Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch was a massive Basic whose sole purpose on the show was to be a fucking nag. Dinah Shore found a way to make hosting a variety show Basic. If you can believe it, there was a time when Julia Roberts was the biggest movie star in the world, and she might as well have “Basic Bitch” tattooed on her forehead (backwards, so she can read it in the mirror, of course).
Which Pop Star Should Be Your Best Friend? – Taken by Westboro Baptist Church member Rebekah Phelps-Roper.
Q. What would you like to do for a night out?
A. Go see some live music. (“We sing a lot of parodies of popular music. I sing the Lorde one, you can hear it on our Soundcloud.”)
Q. What do you usually talk about?
A. How to make the world a better place. (“By preaching, because that is the only way anything can get better.”)
Q. What should your best friend do if you get dumped?
A. Try to make you laugh. (“I don’t date, so I’m answering as though a man at a picket yelled at me.”)
Q. How do you feel about gossip?
A. Haters gonna hate. (“That pretty much describes everyone who talks about us, including the media.”)
Q. Which show would you binge watch?
A. Adventure Time. (“I haven’t binge watched a show since Grey’s Anatomy.”)
Q. And what would you like to eat while you’re watching it?
A. Popcorn and Diet Coke. (“Whatever you’re going to eat, make sure it’s in moderation, because that’s how you’re meant to live your life.”)
Q. How would your best friend celebrate your birthday?
A. Bake you a cake. (“I love celebrating things with cakes, including birthdays.”)
Q. What should be the tone of their toast at your wedding?
A. Earnest. (“Because weddings are, of course, solemn things.”)
"We picketed Taylor Swift! She would not be my best friend, because I would tell her very kindly and gently, ‘you have to stop sleeping around with men, girl.’ The Lord hates that."
See more Buzzfeed quizzes taken by Westboro Baptist Church members