A teenage Twitter user has discovered the perils of failing to think before she tweets, after an ill-judged “joke” terror threat left her in fear of being reported to the FBI.
The user, identifying herself only as a 14-year-old girl named Sarah, sent a brief message to American Airlines pretending to be an al-Qa’ida-member named Ibrahim.
“I’m from Afghanistan,” she wrote. “I’m part of Al Qaida [sic] and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”
It is not entirely clear what Sarah was hoping to achieve with this message, but she presumably could not have been expecting the reply she then received.
Just six minutes later, American Airlines replied: “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”
The exchange was then picked up on by the wider public – @AmericanAir has more than 800,000 followers – and was followed by a flurry of messages from Sarah herself expressing her regret.
Among them, she wrote: “omfg I was kidding”… “I’m so sorry I’m scared now”… “I was joking and it was my friend not me, take her IP address not mine”… “and I’m not from Afghanistan”.
Sarah eventually started receiving huge numbers of tweets from strangers, accusing her of everything from being “immature” to outright “racist”.
Her profile @QueenDemitrax_ – largely a fan account dedicated to the singer Demi Lovato – has since been suspended.
The reply from American Airlines has also been deleted, and it now seems unlikely that an FBI investigation will be launched. A spokesperson for the airline told the New York Daily News: “We took it down basically because it generated a lot of traffic. We took it down so we could better focus on our customers.”