Newsgroups hosts one of the longest running online discussion systems on the planet. As much trash talk newsgroups may have generated, not a single case has ever led to someone being banned for life from every flying again. But that’s what happened when 26 year old Paul Chambers posted a message on Twitter on Friday intended to be an ill-fated joke. It wasn’t long after stating on the popular social network “I’m blowing the airport sky high” that authorities arrested and interrogated him under the Terrorism Act.
The post was meant as merely a joke spiced up with some pent up anger but authorities didn’t take to kindly to his sense of humor. On January 13, Paul was arrested on terrorism charges. When he tried to explain the situation to the officers that had come to arrest him, they didn’t seem to even know what Twitter was “I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they’d never heard of it” stated Paul. He faces a charge of conspiring to create a bomb hoax, a charge he flatly denies. “I’m the most mild-mannered guy you could imagine.”
Since then, they’ve confiscated his laptop, iPhone and home computer while also banning him for life from the airport he had joked about. Furthermore, he has been suspended from his place of work and even his twitter account has been deleted. There have been Twitter-related arrests in the U.S., where there are more than 6 million users of the social-networking site. Two men were arrested last October for tweeting police locations during the G-20 conference in Pittsburgh.
After 30 years of existence, USENET Newsgroups may work the same as Twitter and have had similar posts that may have reached the masses, but never did it generate such a harsh legal backlash for a supposed joke. It leaves to question if these new sites and the direction of social networks as a whole are really a move forward comparative to networks that are proudly uncensored such as USENET newsgroups.