Planning a trip to the good old US of A? Try not to joke about it on Twitter. Look what happened to Irish tourist Leigh Van Bryan. He and a friend were detained on arrival at Los Angeles International airport last week and deported after Leigh tweeted: 'Free this week for quick gossip before I go and destroy America?' Apparently, what he was referring to was simply British slang for partying. What US security officials read into that innocuous sentence was a sinister plot.
It isn't the first time they've been this trigger-happy, of course. A few months after the September 11 attacks, for instance, a woman, her baby and three milk-filled bottles frightened a security guard at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He forced the woman to drink from the bottles, which were filled with her own breast milk.
Then there was Richard Reid, a.k.a. the 'Shoe Bomber.' His 2002 attempt to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes unleashed a brand new wave of paranoia. Today, millions of travellers continue to pass through airport security in socks or bare feet, meekly offering their shoes up for scanning.
Here's the kicker. A few weeks ago, a woman from Massachusetts was pulled aside at Las Vegas airport because she was carrying a cupcake. An official told her the frosting was 'gel-like' and, therefore, constituted a security risk.
The question that begs to be asked is this: How much is too much? Since when did something as innocent as a tweet -- a humble status message on a microblog, if you will -- become a potential threat to national security? Sure, they can be taken as obvious signs at times, but isn't there some intelligent way of figuring out when someone is just, well, trying to be funny?