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Iowa State students investigated for threatening tweets

We are going to mark this down as for an example of how to not use Twitter.

One of the local sports teams in our area, the University of Kansas, played in a basketball game Monday night against Iowa State. The game was controversial for several reasons: the officiating and one of the players on Kansas dunking at the end of the game.

The player, Elijah Johnson, torched Iowa State for 39 points (including eight in the final 29 seconds of the second half and 12 in overtime), and dunked on the final play of the game, when Kansas was up 10 points already.

Johnson, who received boos immediately following the dunk, apologized live on ESPN’s SportsCenter and to Iowa State’s coach.

Unfortunately, some Iowa State fans did not see Johnson’s apology and took to social media to display their outrage. WARNING: the following images contain racist, homophobic and threatening language.

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The two Twitter accounts that tweeted these hateful words have been deactivated. Late Tuesday night, the Iowa State Police Department confirmed to ABC5 that they are investigating the online threats:
We suggest this to anyone on Twitter:

  • Don’t make death threats to anyone
  • Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see
  • Just because you delete your accounts or tweets that doesn’t mean the tweets won’t get a screenshot taken of them
  • If you are going to make threats on Twitter, using your real name in a Twitter handle makes it really easy for the Internet to find out who you are

While police will have to prove that these students actually tweeted these threats, it raises several questions:

What can and should happen to someone who makes a threat to another person online?

A Miami teen was arrested in December following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting for tweeting the following: “Yeah a bunch of little kids died. I could care less. And my school announced it like matters. safe? I could shoot this school up easily.”

A 25-year-old Birmingham, Alabama man was arrested and charged for making a threat to President Obama over Twitter in October. Some of his tweets read: ”Free speech? Really? Let’s test this! Let’s kill the president!” and ”I’m going to finish this, if they get me, they get me! #ohwell. I think we could get the president with cyanide. #MakeItSlow.”

A Texas high school quarterback was arrested for suggestively tweeting about killing teachers. Oscar Resendez tweeted “Or we could start a riot and kill all the teachers” and “We could call in a bomb threat so we can go home.”

Back to the Iowa State students:

Under Iowa state law, an assault is defined as “Any act which is intended to place another in fear of immediate physical contact which will be painful, injurious, insulting, or offensive, coupled with the apparent ability to execute the act.”

The Iowa State statute I.C.A. 708.2 states that Stephen Koithan could face anywhere from a simple misdemeanor or aggravated misdemeanor depending on his criminal history.

The police will most likely investigate to see if Koithan has a gun and they will take it from there.

Regardless of any criminal charges filed against Koithan, this will most likely follow him (rightfully so, we may add) into his professional career.

In the end, it is best to just never make a threat on Twitter or in real life.

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