Though optimistic pundits have declared Twitter largely responsible for social uprisings like Arab Spring, the microblogging network is hardly going to usher in a more liberated future. It's a business, after all, and it bends to the law like every other business does. Over at Foreign Policy's Passport, Uri Friedman counts the ways that Twitter looks more like a tool of the present than a harbinger of better tomorrows.
He writes that people who "threaten violence" on Twitter have been arrested:
Earlier this week, DHS agents detained Irish traveler Leigh Van Bryan and a friend at Los Angeles International Airport and sent them back to Europe after Bryan tweeted that he was going to "destroy America" and dig up Marilyn Monroe during his trip — references, he later told officials, to partying and the comedy show Family Guy, respectively (the incident conjured up memories of other jokes gone awry, such as when the Onion enraged the U.S. Capitol Police by tweeting, "BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building"). In 2009, FBI agents arrested an Oklahoma City man named Daniel Knight Hayden for threatening on Twitter to kill police officers during a Tea Party tax protest. Hayden was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Saying something on Twitter, it seems, is basically the same thing as saying it straight to a police officer's face.
Thinking of quitting Twitter now? Well, you can also be arrested for failing to Tweet. Friedman writes:
The manager for teen pop star Justin Bieber and an Island Def Jam Records executive were arrested a couple of years ago for not immediately cancelling an appearance by Bieber at a Long Island mall over Twitter, as police requested afters fans grew unruly. Prosecutors charged the manager, "Scooter" Braun, with reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance but later dropped the charges in exchange for Bieber recording a public service announcement on cyberbullying.
Read more about what you can and can't do on Twitter - under penalty of law - at Foreign Policy's Passport.