A British man has been fined £1,000 for sending a tweet in which he joked about blowing up an airport.
The tweet wasn’t even noticed until a week after the man had actually passed harmlesssly through the departure gate.
Paul Chambers was due to visit Northern Ireland to visit a new girlfriend, but heavy snow meant that many airports were closed. He tweeted to his friends: “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”
Days later, an off-duty airport manager did a Twitter search on his place of employment – as you do – and found the offending message. He reported it to the head of airport security, who then passed it on to the police.
The court decided that he was guilty of broadcasting “a message by means of a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003.”
Chambers has already lost his job as a financial controller as a result of the case, and has become something of a cause celebre. Famous names such as Simon Pegg and Stephen Fry are offering support or even cash at #twitterjoketrial.
“What a f***ing joke! What happened to ‘motive’? Surely, what’s meant as a joke only becomes felony when meant as felony,” tweeted Pegg.