Robert C. Koehler
I have never been quite as wrapped up with Twitter as a lot of my colleagues are, although the 140-characters-or-less medium appears to be ideally suited to today's shortened attention spans.
Don't think, Twitter tells us, only text.
Such spontaneous brevity has led to an unexpected bonus of entertainment: watching people embarrass themselves with messages that they would have thought better than to tweet, if only their brains had been more fully engaged.
Today's winner of the bonehead tweeting prize in my view goes to a 29-year-old hedge fund analyst with a name that would impress Dickens:
As Hurricane Sandy slammed into
Among his not-so-great hits:
"Con Edison has begun shutting down ALL power in
"Governor Cuomo is trapped in
"Confirmed flooding on
Sounds like fun, if you're the type of person who would throw a skunk into a homeless shelter. Unfortunately the tweets were retweeted so far and wide that the power company
That wasn't easy. By the time the
Unmasked by the political website Buzzfeed, ComfortablySmug turned out to be not only a hedge fund analyst but also campaign manager for
Tripathi said bye-bye to that job and apologized to the world -- in another tweet.
And others, including the
Perjury, for example, is against the law.
Nothing in those laws would exempt bogus tweets, experts say, although a landmark
Although some lies such as perjury or pretending to speak on behalf of the government are famously illegal, the Alvarez decision struck down a law that makes it a crime to lie about being a war hero. Strict enforcement, the high court noted, would criminalize, for example, every blowhard who ever lied about his combat record to impress women in a bar.
But those rights don't protect dangerous lies. As the often-quoted Justice
Pranksters have free speech rights, too, even when they abuse those rights.
Yet, even in the Alvarez decision, the court left the door open to allow the outlawing of lies that cause harm, such as lying to raise money for bogus charities or other swindles.
I'm not a lawyer. I only try to sound like one sometimes. But I understand the hesitation to prosecute Twitter creeps. After all, if you could get arrested for broadcasting lies, a lot of politicians and campaign operatives would be going to jail.
And countless potential jurors would be eager to throw away the key.
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- Power Returns to Lower Manhattan
- Broken Hoboken in Slow Recovery from Storm
- Occupy Sandy: Local Attempt at Helping New York, New Jersey People in Need
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(c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.