Monday, February 20, 2012

Lost in Translation – A Twitter Post Can Ruin A Vacation

By now it is becoming all too common that someone posts a joke or sarcastic remark on Twitter or Facebook and they immediately regret it when the post offends someone, reveals too much personal information, or draws the attention of law enforcement, which is increasingly monitoring social media networks for evidence of crimes, particularly terrorism.  A British couple flying from England to Los Angeles learned this lesson the hard.  Right before Leigh Bryan and Emily Banting left England to fly to the U.S., Leigh posted on Twitter “Free this week for a quick gossip/ prep before I go and destroy America?”  What he meant was that he and Emily were going to the U.S. and were going to “party hard,” as it is common slang in England to say something like “this last weekend we destroyed the club.”  This explanation, however, did not go over well with U.S. border patrol agents or the Department of Homeland Security, who had agents waiting at the gate to detain the couple and interrogate them about their intent to “destroy America.” 
Fortunately, the couple was not charged with any crimes. Unfortunately, following being held in detention, the couple was sent back to England on the next flight, their long sought after dream vacation to the U.S. ruined because of an errant tweet and the gap between American English and British English.  The lesson: be careful what you say, be conscious of who may read your public missives and consider whether what you say can be easily misunderstood, particularly by law enforcement.

Questions or Comments? Contact Jared Cantor.