Anyone who uses Twitter has probably at one time, in a not too tender moment, sent out an angry tweet or two…or twenty. In the case of Alba Gonzalez Camacho of Madrid, Spain, a conviction for inciting terrorism through social media for her angry tweets left her facing jail time. The 21-year-old student whose studying to become a social worker insists that she is a normal girl. Just a very pissed off girl. She considers her Twitter rage to be justified, and in spite of the fact her rage earned a conviction for this particular user, it has opened up further debate on the thin line between freedom of speech and the anti-terrorist laws set by many countries.
The tweets in question that were posted by Miss Camacho called for a now dormant, far left terrorist group to arm themselves and murder the politicians that she took issue with. This is not the first conviction in cases like this one. Recently in Britain, two people were sent to prison for posting messages of a threatening nature towards a feminist campaigner. Here in the United States, a man was sent to prison for 16 months after threatening to kill President Obama on Twitter. It would seem many countries are toughening up on terrorism laws and going after just about anyone who crosses the line.
Miss Camacho has said that she used her Twitter post as a tool to fight back against a government who she sees as her oppressor. In her mind, the economic despair caused by the euro crisis is a crime against her rights, and those of her fellow countrymen to live decently and prosper. Many global citizens who suffer under troubled governments consider their plights a crime against humanity and feel they should be allowed to speak out against it, as sometimes vocalization is their only weapon. When Twitter rage or anger in other social platforms are discovered and found to violate the rules, it becomes more and more likely that the perpetrator will earn a conviction for being an outspoken user. Caution is swiftly becoming the word of the day for millions of disgruntled social media posters.
The case against Alba Camacho has garnered sympathy from supporters on social media networks. She now has more than 14,000 followers and counting. Although she will avoid the one year prison sentence and instead take a plea deal, her once clean criminal record now bears a very serious blemish. Her conviction and those of others found guilty of committing abuses through social media platforms, sends the message to global citizens that they will be punished and made an example of if they cross the line set by their lawmakers. Conversely, reactionary responses are almost mandatory as there is no real way of knowing if angry citizens will follow through on their threats.
In light of the recent NSA scandal that is yet reverberating through the international community, it would seem to be in the best interests of those who take angry issue with the status quo, to restrict their more inciteful rants to their respective living rooms. There is no longer a veil of secrecy available to hide behind. Just about anyone can be identified through their cyber imprints and that should be cause for both concern and a certain degree of restraint. Unless social media users are prepared to go toe to toe with the courts, it would perhaps behoove them to reign in the rhetoric. Twitter rage is not a new concept by any means, but it can now earn devastating convictions for those who choose to use those 140 characters to express it.
Opinion By Mai Nowlin