FREE PRESS: The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a tweet from a high school girl that may be considered threatening toward the president.Alyssa Douglas of Clarksville, Ohio, about 40 miles northeast of here, sent a tweet Thursday night: “Someone needs to assassinate Obama … like ASAP.”Clinton-Massie Local School District officials have had a meeting with Douglas and her parents.Bloggers and Twitter users followed the incident Friday with a discussion of hate speech.
One Twitter user even claimed to point out the 16-year-old to the FBI and CIA, agencies that do not use those handles.The Secret Service office here said it will report its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of Ohio. It is possible that the tweet will not be determined a legitimate threat to the president’s well being.”I see it as emphasizing the need for more media literacy and media education,” Jeffrey Blevins, head of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Journalism and an expert in new media, said of the incident. “These things are so readily available to young people; they don’t fully understand the consequences of what they say. It’s not just a snide comment to a couple of their friends where the friends can read that remark in context. Instead, that comment goes out to the entire Twitter universe, and you lose control of it.”That concept is very difficult for young people — and even some adults — to understand,” he said.
Communication with kids is key to helping them avoid potentially costly new media mistakes, Blevins said.”One of the worst things you could probably do is to forbid it because then it becomes the forbidden fruit,” he said. “They’re going to access it anyway.”Instead, Blevins recommends that parents stay abreast of their children’s online activities, requiring password access to their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. And parents should talk to their teens about being careful about what they say, sharing stories such as this one.”It’s a good reminder to be responsible with social media,” he said.A North Carolina man was charged this week after making a much more specific threat via Twitter toward Obama.The Associated Press reported that Donte Jamar Sims was detained Wednesday after posting messages including one that said, “Ima Assassinate president Obama this evening!” on Monday morning, two days before Obama arrived in Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention.