Laughing all the way to the police station

Brittany Chang, Director of Photography

Around friends, many teenagers jokingly threaten each other with simple, innocuous insults. However, with the advancement of social networking sites (allowing communication to be much faster), many anonymous online users have taken simple jokes and threats too far, causing the lives of others to be threatened.

On April 13, 14-year-old Dutch Twitter user @QueenDemetriax_ (now suspended), sent a tweet directed at American Airlines posting, “Hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m going to do something really big bye,” according to the National Post.

In response, American Airlines tweeted back, “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”

After posting a series of tweets stating her regrets, the Dutch police arrested her.

Threatening jokes like these pose a threat to the general public. Not only are they extremely insensitive, but they also show direct targeting towards innocent people. If the “joke” is taken seriously, it can cause others to take immediate  action, as seen by American Airlines.

Yet another example of insensitive threats is “swatting,” a prank within the video gaming industry. Swatting occurs when SWAT teams are sent to a scene after receiving supposedly threatening calls.

According to the New York Post, one caller said he shot his co-workers at a Colorado video game company and had hostages. Another in Florida said her father was drunk, wielding a machine gun and threatening their family. Right after receiving the alarming calls, SWAT teams were, “dispatched to the scene (only to find) no violent criminals or wounded victims — only video game players sitting at their computers” (according to Yahoo).

“It’s a really stupid thing for people to do because (they’re) becoming too serious,” senior and frequent online gamer Jeffrey Pak said. “Gaming is about not caring about reality.”

Cases like these waste the money of taxpayers and time of the SWAT team members who otherwise could be dealing with serious cases. In society, it is crucial for young adults to understand and realize consequences that result from these ridiculous, harmful actions. With pranks becoming more and more elaborate, if young adults with social networking sites do not learn how to filter themselves, it will become increasingly harder to deal with pranks, especially if they risk the lives of others.