Teenagers Are Now Tweeting Bomb Threats To Airlines In An Attempt To Be Cool

The arrest of a 14-year-old Dutch girl who tweeted a bomb threat to American Airlines has set off a series of additional tweeted threats, and this is apparently the cool thing to do now on Twitter.

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“My apologies go out to all but why can’t y’all take a joke,” said one Twitter user named Alden Fernandez

This was in response to a tweet he earlier sent to American Airlines that a bomb was “going [to go] off on six of your aircrafts”.
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The above is one of many tweets coming in from some very lame teenagers, because they think it’s pretty funny to send tweets to major airlines with bomb threats

People use their smart devices on an American Airlines plane.

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Airlines take these threats seriously – and they have to, so that they can ensure the safety of their passengers. A lot of airline and law enforcement resources are used to track down who made the bomb threat, even if it just a joke.

This "trend" started after a 14-year-old girl was arrested after tweeting a bomb threat to American Airlines

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The 14-year-old Dutch user @queendemetriax_ thought it would be funny to send a tweet saying she was from Afghanistan, a member of a terrorist group and that “on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye”.

A tweet conversation with American Airlines officials followed, who replied “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”
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Soon afterwards, police in Rotterdam launched an investigation to find out who was behind the account. On Monday, the teen went to the police station with a family member and turned herself in, she was subsequently released.

It’s not entirely clear what the girl was trying to achieve with her tweet, but since then many people started posting their own bomb threats to American Airlines

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So, why are they doing it? It appears many of these tweeters are "showing solidarity" with Sarah

Dr Terri Apter, a psychology lecturer from Cambridge University, told the Daily Telegraph that they are angry that one of them – the idiots – is being punished for a “harmless gesture of teen defiance.”

“Their response is to mimic the offence. In this way they show peer solidarity and at the same time make punishment more difficult by transforming an individual gesture into a mass movement,” she said.

The pranks are putting additional strain on airlines already striving to manage their social media presence. But not all Twitter users approve.

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"Teenagers do stupid things. But to think that this – making a bomb threat to an airline, regardless of medium – is a “harmless gesture of teen defiance”? And it should have a mass movement of teenagers to protest against the punishment – that she rightfully deserves – for making such a ‘joke’?," argues Terence Huynh of TechGeek.

This is stupid for fairly obvious reasons. But if looked at it from a broader point, this is actually a bigger issue than just making a few jokes about airline security.

Leaving aside, for a minute, the vast waste of taxpayer money and manpower that represents, there's another more ground-level problem here: This trolling completely destroys whatever incentives airlines have to engage with their customers on Twitter. Which is, as many a Twitter-using traveler knows, basically the only decent line of airline customer service left.

Just last week, the Post's Andrea Sachs reported on the use of social media at major airlines — it's "unrivaled in its efficiency," one expert said. In other words, if you ever have a problem on a flight, social media is the surest way to get relief. Or it will be, until other Internet trolls spam airlines with distracting, and potentially dangerous, clutter. (Imagine the chaos, if 4chan or some such signed on.)

The prank tweets have angered many Twitter users who have condemned them as “stupid” and reported them to the appropriate authorities

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The American Airlines Twitter account was set up to help customers communicate with the organisation. Who doesn’t want to vent their anger when their flight is delayed by several hours? It’s just a shame that manpower, money and other resources are being wasted on Twitter trolls when staff could be focusing on something a bit more productive, like actually responding to customer queries.

It’s not up to American Airlines to ignore communications with customers, or potential customers. It’s up to other individuals to stop being irresponsible on Twitter.

ALSO READ: What Prompted This Airline To Tweet A Totally Explicit Image To A Complaining Customer?

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