The boundaries of social media were tested yet again when a 14-year-old girl from Denmark sent a terroristic tweet to American Airlines as a “joke.”

According to USA Today, the girl, who identified herself as a 14-year-old named Sarah on her Twitter account, sent the following tweet to American Airlines’ @americanair twitter account on Sunday, April 13: “hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”

American airlines responded, saying: “Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”

“There’s a great saying that says ‘there’s a fine line between clever and stupid’, this wasn’t even close, it was just stupid,” Keene State College Journalism Professor Mark Timney said, “You want to laugh at this because it’s a fourteen-year-old girl who obviously isn’t going to blow up an airline, on the other hand it’s a very difficult when a government legitimately has to protect its citizens.  How do you tell which threats are real and which threats aren’t?”

The stories of social media misuse among teens and young adults are ever-present.

Erin D’Aleo / Graphic Design Editor

Erin D’Aleo / Graphic Design Editor

Instances like this one, which led to the 14-year-old’s arrest serve as a reminder that what an individual posts online isn’t just available to friends, it’s available to virtually anyone.

“We all need to be careful about what we put online because it can very easily and reasonably be misinterpreted because it’s out of context.  It’s a mediated reality, that picture that was taken under certain circumstances which means something to you doesn’t necessarily mean anything like that to someone else,” Timney said.

In today’s day and age social media has taken the world by storm, with one billion active users on Facebook, 500 million on Twitter and 130 million plus on Instagram, according to Social Media Today.

Sociology Professor at KSC Saran Ghatak said with this kind of presence online it is not surprising to learn that what you post online, now more than ever, can not just cause problems for an individual now, it can also create issues in the future.

“People are still not grasping that something you post on Facebook or social media is certainly not private, anything posted on the internet even if its taken down, its cached somewhere and it can be traced,” said Ghatak.

In terms of future employment opportunities, how someone presents themselves online is crucial.

According to a 2013 study by CareerBuilder, more employers are finding reasons not to hire candidates because of their social media presence.

In the survey, the top two negative behaviors mentioned by employers were provocative/inappropriate photos and/or information (fifty percent) and information about candidate drinking or using drugs (forty eight percent).

Senior and Education major Dana Magnusson said for student teaching and for her future she has to be extremely cautious about how she appears in the online world.

“All of my social media accounts are private and that’s because I work in school system where anyone, other teachers, students, students’ parents could Google my name and find these accounts,” Magnusson said.

She continued, “And for jobs in the future I know they’ll probably do the same.”

The question of “why do teens and young adults continue to post potentially risqué content online even after countless societal reminders of its repercussions in the news and everyday life?” remains unanswered.

However, Timney suggest changing times could play a role in this disconnect.

“It doesn’t seem like when I operate a computer and send a tweet or post on Facebook it doesn’t seem like it’s going to anyone else because nothing else that we’ve ever used does like letters in the mail or phone calls,” he said.

Timney continued, “We forget the whole world is listening or reading so we have to recognize that technology has changed. Our understanding of the purpose of the technology unfortunately has not kept up.”


Rachel Heard can be contacted at

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