Do people not yet understand that social media is a real form of communication, or do they just not care?
In the wake of the passage of health care legislation
that has thus far been the dominating force of Obama's presidency, two Twitter users unhappy with the bill posted multiple tweets calling for the assassination of the President, spurring a Secret Service investigation
"ASSASSINATION! America, we survived the Assassinations and Lincoln & Kennedy. We’ll surely get over a bullet to Barrack [sic]
Obama’s head," read Solly Forrell's
first tweet, which was immediately followed by one even blunter: "The next American with a Clear Shot should drop Obama like a bad habit. 4get Blacks or his claims to b[e] Black. Turn on Barack Obama."
The user's bio on Twitter reads, "Barack Obama's election in 2008 as the 44th POTUS was an American Electorate mistake & as an 'authentic' African-American - I should know." At the time of this writing, the tweets in question have been deleted, leaving a far tamer anti-health insurance tweet
as the most recent: "Can anything that angers & divides us like #hcr really B good 4 America? U.S. has bad credit? Our rhetoric is vile. Mine included. Sad day."
The other tweet, "You Should be Assassinated!! @Barack Obama," came from @THHEE_JAY, a man since identified as Jay Martin, whose account appears to no longer exist on the site. Like the first user, Martin followed up his first tweet with a second, far more confrontational message: "If I lived in DC. I'd shoot him myself. Dead f***ing serious."
While the comments may have been made in jest with no actual plans to carry out the requests, the Secret Service is investigating both users and released the following statement:
"We are aware of the comments and are taking the appropriate investigative action. We respect the right of free speech, but in such instances we have a right and an obligation to ask questions and determine intent."
This is just another good example of how real social media communication really is and that the veil of anonymity on the Web can easily be torn down when necessary.